Supermarket Chicken Could Give You a Drug-Resistant UTI

This UTI might be hard to shake, if you have an infection that can fight off antibiotics.

Scientists have established genetic similarities between E. coli bacteria found in grocery store chicken and that in human patients that caused urinary tract infections. (Photo: PhotoStock-Israel via Getty Images)

Jul 12, 2012
Kelly Zhou has written on a variety of topics for TakePart, predominantly politics, education, and wildlife.

Researchers have found that antibiotic-resistant bacteria in supermarket chicken may be connected to resistant urinary tract infections.

The news, reported by The Atlantic, is yet another piece of evidence against feeding farm animals damaging chemicals and pharmaceuticals, as there are often highly detrimental consequences for human health.

It’s well known that the overuse of antibiotics to produce better livestock has created drug-resistant human infections. UTIs, a common infection among women that causes painful burning during urination, are often caused by E. coli, a widespread bacterium.

In recent years, researchers at prominent universities in Canada have found that the resistant bacteria found in human patients is genetically close to the resistant strains found on birds headed for the grocery store.

MORE: Clip of the Day: Why We Need Meat Without Drugs

“The researchers contend that poultry — especially chicken, the low-cost, low-fat protein that Americans eat more than any other meat — is the bridge that allows resistant bacteria to move to humans, taking up residence in the body and sparking infections when conditions are right,” Maryn McKenna writes in The Atlantic.

While critics say that there is currently no scientific proof that a transfer occurs between chickens and humans, these researchers contend that there is a strong relationship between the bacteria in both situations.

Some doctors have seen more and more patients with cases of resistant UTIs that require several rounds of different antibiotics, McKenna explained. The second most common infection in humans, UTIs account for more than 8 million trips to the doctor every year, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Thus, UTIs could pose a big public health problem — but the general consensus on UTIs and drug-resistant bacteria in chickens is unclear, so we’re waiting to see if this research gains more momentum.  

What kind of meat do you usually buy, and do you know where it comes from? Let us know in the COMMENTS.

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