- LONDON (Reuters) - American researchers have found bacteria in chicken
feed that are resistant to the most powerful antibiotics and could pose
a health threat to humans.
- In a letter to The Lancet medical journal
Friday, Dr Glen Morris of the University of Maryland in Baltimore said
the discovery of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) in animal feed
raised fears that it could be passed on to humans.
- ``The identification of a highly resistant
enterococal strain in feed raises disturbing questions about the potential
for penetration of VRE strains into farms and food animal populations in
the USA and subsequent risk of transfer into human populations,'' he said
in the letter.
- Animal feed is not expected to be sterile
but researchers believe it is the first report of VRE from commercially
prepared chicken feed in the United States.
- Vancomycin is the last line of resistance
to so-called superbugs that have built up a resistance to most conventional
drugs. Enterococci, which causes intestinal problems, is a common source
of infection in hospitals and usually treated with antibiotics.
- Scientists blame the increase in superbugs
on the overuse of antibiotics in people and animals. Medical experts think
animals are the source of superbugs that are passed on to humans.
- The discovery of the drug-resistant enterococci
in animal feed means it could be transferred to animals and to humans.
- The researchers did not say which company
made the chicken feed or how it become contaminated, but they said drug
resistant enterococci was widespread in at least one lot of feed.