WEDNESDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have long believed that urinary tract infections are typically caused by a person's own E. coli bacteria, but a new Canadian study suggests the bacteria may more often than not come from chickens.
As many as 85 percent of urinary tract infections are caused by E. coli, according to the report in the March issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, a publication of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers compared the genetic fingerprints of E. coli from these infections to that of E. coli from chicken, beef and pork. And they found a match: chicken. What's more, they report that the infections probably came directly from the chickens, not from human contamination during food processing.
"Chicken may be a reservoir for the E. coli that cause infections like urinary tract infections," said study author Amee Manges, who is with the department of epidemiology, biostatistics and occupational health at McGill University in Montreal.
"We are also concerned about the selection and amplification of drug-resistant E. coli on the farms because of improper or overuse of antimicrobials during food animal production. It may be possible to reduce the level of drug-resistant infections in humans by encouraging rational and judicious use of antimicrobials on farms," Manges said.
"We just want to emphasize that it isn't just inappropriate use of antibiotics in human medicine that matters, but also the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine and food production that leads to greater drug-resistant bugs," the study author added.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already advises against the overuse of antibiotics in livestock, because it can lead to resistant strains of bacteria.
Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at NYU Langone Medica
All rights reserved