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Flies may spread drug-resistant bacteria from poultry operations
Date:3/16/2009

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found evidence that houseflies collected near broiler poultry operations may contribute to the dispersion of drug-resistant bacteria and thus increase the potential for human exposure to drug-resistant bacteria. The findings demonstrate another potential link between industrial food animal production and exposures to antibiotic resistant pathogens. Previous studies have linked antibiotic use in poultry production to antibiotic resistant bacteria in farm workers, consumer poultry products and the environment surrounding confined poultry operations, as well as releases from poultry transport.

"Flies are well-known vectors of disease and have been implicated in the spread of various viral and bacterial infections affecting humans, including enteric fever, cholera, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis and shigellosis," said lead author Jay Graham, PhD, who conducted the study as a research fellow with Bloomberg School's Center for a Livable Future. Our study found similarities in the antibiotic-resistant bacteria in both the flies and poultry litter we sampled. The evidence is another example of the risks associated with the inadequate treatment of animal wastes."

"Although we did not directly quantify the contribution of flies to human exposure, our results suggest that flies in intensive production areas could efficiently spread resistant organisms over large distances," said Ellen Silbergeld, PhD, senior author of the study and professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Environmental Health Sciences.

Graham and his colleagues collected flies and samples of poultry litter from poultry houses along the Delmarva Peninsulaa coastal region shared by Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, which has one of the highest densities of broiler chickens per acre in the United States. The analysis by the research team isolated antibiotic-resistant enterococci and staph
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Contact: Tim Parsons
tmparson@jhsph.edu
410-955-7619
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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