By Gatonye Gathura
For the first time the much loved, backyard ‘kuku kienyanji’ in Kenya has been confirmed to carry highly drug resistant human disease causing germs.
So far, suspicions have been on exotic commercial broiler and layers as the main carriers of hard to kill germs, but a new study now shows the indigenous bird is as bad if not worse.
Published yesterday by Kenya Medical Research Institute and Germany researchers, the study warn consumers that indigenous birds are no better than exotic broilers when it comes to drug resistance bacteria.
The researchers were specifically targeting the bacteria Campylobacter spp. Campylobacter bacteria are a major cause of food borne diarrhoeal illness in humans and can be fatal in very young children and elderly patients.
The researchers had collected samples from chicken housed in backyards and homesteads of small scale farmers from the outskirts of Thika, a town 40 km northeastern of Nairobi, Kenya.
During the rearing of the chicken, the study says antibiotics were used for prevention and treatment of diseases but without any instructions from qualified veterinary personnel.
The samples tested in Germany were found to be highly resistant to almost all major drugs used to treat humans infected with campylobacter.
Of interest, the team found chicken still being treated with the drug chloramphenicol with a quarter of samples found resistant to the drug.
“Use of chloramphenicol is banned in animal breeding in Europe for more than 20 years, but still it is often used in many third world countries.
The researchers blame the easy access to over-the-counter and other unregulated antibiotics for the developing crisis.
“These findings demonstrate the potential for antibiotic-resistant bacteria to spread through the food chain from animals treated with antibiotics for humans.”
The researchers want mechanisms put in place to restrict the use of human antibiotics in food animals in the country.