Superbug found in New Zealand chicken meat

Stuff reports that a new superbug has been found in chicken from three of New Zealand's four major poultry suppliers which has spread to humans.  

"Groundbreaking research reveals the new antibiotic-resistant strain of campylobacter spreads to humans, which could make it hard to treat serious cases of infections.

Campylobacter occurs naturally in the gut of chickens but is the leading cause of food poisoning, with about 7000 cases reported each year.

The antibiotic-resistant strain was first found in 2014 and has now been identified in human cases in Manawatu, Auckland and Wellington. 

The study, by Nigel French of Massey University and ESR microbiologist Debbie Williamson, found three of the major poultry suppliers in the North Island tested positive for the strain. A fourth was still waiting for test results. The pair would not name the companies.

It was not clear how the campylobacter became resistant but it was possible it was due to DNA mutation or through chicken feed being pumped with antiobiotics.”

The four major suppliers of poultry in the North Island are Inghams, Tegel, Brinks and Turks, but the study did not reveal which had tested positive for the strain.

Professor Michael Baker of Otago University said New Zealand has the highest rates of campylobacter in the world, and in some cases it could be fatal. "The only way to deal with it properly is to get it out of the food supply. No other food makes that many people sick. If it was a new food it would be off the shelves immediately. Campylobacter is the most dangerous thing people take into their kitchen but they don't know about it."

In New Zealand chickens are routinely given antibiotics to prevent disease in cramped factory farmed conditions. As well as the danger to human health, chickens suffer a horrifying life where more than half of them are lame by the time they reach slaughter age and 10,000 die every day from ill health.


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25 November 2015