If you have a liking for chicken and eggs, think again, as a new study has found that poultry farms in the country are breeding grounds for superbugs. For the uninitiated, it is worth mentioning that superbugs are parasites that have become resistant to commonly available antibiotics. The study covered around 18 poultry farms in Punjab and random tests were conducted on the fowl. Each of these poultry farms had around 50,000 birds. The test results revealed that two-third of the fowl had bacteria that produce a type of enzyme that neutralizes most penicillin- and cephalosporin-based antibiotics. The enzyme has been identified as extended-spectrum beta-lactamase, or ESBL.
The results also revealed that the superbugs were present in 87% of the fowls meant for meat consumption. In leg-laying hens, the superbug presence was 42 percent. This shows that fowls meant for meat consumption were more dangerous than the eggs produced by egg-laying hens. Speaking about the study, Ramanan Laxminarayan, director at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in New Delhi said, “This study has serious implications, not only for India but globally. We must remove antibiotics from the human food chain, except to treat sick animals, or face the increasingly real prospect of a post-antibiotic world.”