N.C.C. critical of research linking flies to antibiotic resistance
of Article: http://www.meatpoultry.com/news/weekly_enews.asp?ArticleID=100866&e=INSERT_EMAIL
(MEATPOULTRY.com, March 17,
by Bryan Salvage
BALTIMORE — Johns Hopkins
Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers claim to have found evidence
that houseflies collected near broiler poultry operations may contribute to
the dispersion of drug-resistant bacteria, increasing the potential for
human exposure to drug-resistant bacteria. The findings demonstrate a
potential link between industrial food animal production and exposures to
antibiotic-resistant pathogens, according to the authors of the study.
Previous studies have
linked antibiotic use in poultry production to antibiotic-resistant
bacteria in farm workers, consumer poultry products and the environment
surrounding confined poultry operations, as well as releases from poultry
well-known vectors of disease and have been implicated in the spread of
various viral and bacterial infections affecting humans, including enteric
fever, cholera, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis and shigellosis,"
said Dr. Jay Graham, Ph.D., the lead author who conducted the study as a
research fellow with Bloomberg School’s Center for a Livable Future.
"Our study found similarities in the antibiotic-resistant bacteria in
both the flies and poultry litter we sampled. The evidence is another
example of the risks associated with the inadequate treatment of animal
"Although we did not
directly quantify the contribution of flies to human exposure, our results
suggest that flies in intensive production areas could efficiently spread
resistant organisms over large distances," said Dr. Ellen Silbergeld,
Ph.D., senior author of the study and professor in the Bloomberg School of
Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences.
At least one poultry industry insider is skeptical of this study and its
results. "This is the same group that did a study of bacteria
allegedly flying off chickens in transport, which could be a problem if you
are in the habit of tailgating chicken trucks with your windows rolled down
— which nobody does," Richard L. Lobb, director of communications for
the National Chicken Council, told MEATPOULTRY.com. "So they
have gone from tailgating chicken trucks to catching flies."
It is interesting that
the study apparently makes no connection between the flies and any human
illness — "We did not directly quantify the contribution of flies to
human exposure," as Dr. Silbergeld put it rather delicately, Mr. Lobb
"A scientific study
is usually done in response to some observed phenomenon," Mr. Lobb
continued. "This group at Johns Hopkins seems to be determined instead
to find things they can use to criticize the poultry industry. They are
literally swatting at flies."