Antibiotics-fed poultry pose threat to public health

Emran Hossain | Published: 01:20, Nov 26,2016


A farmer feeds chicken at his poultry farm at Savar on the outskirts of Dhaka on Friday amid allegation of indiscriminate use of antibiotics posing threat to public health. — Sanaul Haque

Indiscriminate use of antibiotics for preventing livestock and poultry diseases as well as fattening them pose serious threat to public health, said microbiologists.
They as well as veterinary doctors said that antibiotics could be prescribed only for treating infection.
Antibiotics residue gets accumulated in livestock and poultry body parts from which they enter into humans, Dhaka Medical College’s microbiology professor SM Shamsuzzaman told New Age.
Consumers of these cattle and poultry meats, he said, were likely to suffer nephrotoxicity and hepatoxicity.
As the livestock department has no labs to test antibiotic residue in food it is impossible to determine the extent of this toxic residue in food consumed, said livestock officials.
A study conducted by Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University’s medicine and public health department last year found antibiotic residues in at least 26 per cent of chicken collected from 73 poultry farms in and around the capital.
Livestock department’s assistant director for animal health and administration ASSM Zubery said that 19 brands of antibiotics, the residues of which were detected by SAU in poultry and cattle meats, were under wide use in the country.
During visit to a large poultry farm at Savar its manager Ruhul Amin told New Age he himself treats 1,5000 chicken in the farm without consulting veterinarians.
He pleaded not to write the names of the farm and its owner.
He consults salesmen, reads leaflets supplied by them, and surfs the internet for treating the poultry, said Ruhul.
He said he buys antibiotics in bulk for administering on all the chickens in the farm he serves to prevent diseases.
SAU medicine and public health professor KBM Saiful Islam, who led the study, said that he found fresh antibiotic residues in the chicken bought for the study.
It means, he said, that the chickens were sold immediately after antibiotic doses were fed to them.
On study, he said, antibiotic residues were found in livers, breast muscles and the thighs.
Doctors said that antibiotic residues make consumers, particularly children and the elderly, vulnerable to liver and kidney diseases.
Cooking cannot destroy antibiotic residues, said Dhaka University’s clinical pharmacy and pharmacology professor Muniruddin Ahmed.
He was surprised to hear from New Age that antibiotics of even 60 years back were still fed to poultry mixing them with their feed though doctors stopped prescribing them due to high level of toxicity in them.
Seeing the list of antibiotics in use at poultry farms, he was shocked to find that they were fed to country’s poultry birds in dangerous combinations.
Colistin is still widely fed to poultry birds in Bangladesh which made them resistant to antibiotic treatment, said Muniruddin. 

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