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Africa and EU See Rising Level of Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella

Strains of one increasingly antibiotic-resistant Salmonella serotype have seen a “rapid worldwide spread,” according to a study published by researchers at the Institut Pasteur in Paris and Morocco.

Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Kentucky, first isolated in 2002 in a French tourist who had visited Egypt, has now “spread at an astonishing rate throughout Africa and the Middle East in the space of only a few years,” the study’s authors claim.

The bacterium has also already been found in farmed-raised turkeys in Europe, though it is not clear based on available information if those turkeys were imported or grown domestically. In a summary of the study, the lead author said he worries that the resistant strain may soon spread to European poultry farms.

This study comes on the heels of a report out of Canada calling antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Kentucky a rare but “growing concern” in Canadian health. That study found that between 2003 and 2009, 30 percent of Salmonella Kentucky isolates from Canadian patients were resistant to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin.

Those Canadian infections, however, were not associated with any retail food sold in Canada. Instead, every patient with available travel information had visited an African country within a week of developing symptoms.

According to the authors of the Pasteur study, the resistant bacterium has continued to spread through Mediterranean countries, particularly Morocco, infecting hundreds of patients each year.

“In addition, the authors of this study made the troubling observation that a number of strains recently acquired in the Mediterranean Basin are showing a range of resistance towards all antibiotic classes used to treat severe cases of salmonellosis,” the study’s summary read.

The main vehicle of transmission for antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Kentucky from African and Middle Eastern countries appears to be chickens and turkeys. The authors said the resistance is believed to be caused by “the massive overuse” of antibiotics in African poultry farming.

According to a May 2013 report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the U.S. saw 55 outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant pathogens between 1973 and 2011. Contaminated dairy products and ground beef accounted for the majority of those outbreaks.

Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella strains accounted for 50 (91 percent) of those drug-resistant outbreaks, though none of them were Salmonella Kentucky. At least 35 (64 percent) of those were resistant to five or more antibiotics.

On Monday, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist in Congress, wrote a letter to President Obama urging him to “pay special attention to issues of antibiotic resistance” at this week’s G-8 Summit in Northern Ireland. Slaughter also suggested the President consider stronger limits on antibiotic use in animal agriculture.

David Willetts, Britain’s science minister, is expected to use his platform at the G-8 meeting to propose new measures to curb the overuse of antibiotics by both healthcare professionals and farmers alike.

© Food Safety News
  • Nancy

    Did Egyptians cause this then and not Chesapeake family farms? There are CAFO poultry farms all across Africa? When did this happen? Why did I not know this and how come there is so much hunger and protein deficiency in Africa if they have all these mega farms churning out processed poultry meat? Will Louise be going over to Africa to get their microbiology straightened out for them? I think we can safely spare her. Let her go and stay as long as it takes to get Africa up to snuff.