New Delhi: Large scale, indiscriminate use of antibiotics in the poultry industry has led to antibiotic resistance in Indians who are falling prey to many otherwise curable ailments, said a new study released here Wednesday.
The study by the Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) Pollution Monitoring Lab, which tested 70 chicken samples from the Delhi-NCR region for six commonly used antibiotics – oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline, doxycycline, enrofloxacin, ciprofloxacin and neomycin – found their residues in the chicken samples.
“Many essential and important antibiotics for humans are being used by the poultry industry. In India, there is growing evidence that resistance to fluoroquinolones such as ciprofloxacin is rapidly increasing,” claimed Sunita Narain, director general of CSE.
Treating fatal diseases like sepsis, pneumonia and tuberculosis (TB) with fluoroquinolones is becoming tough because microbes that cause these diseases are increasingly becoming resistant to fluoroquinolones,” she said.
The study alleged large scale unregulated use of antibiotics by the poultry industry to promote faster growth of chickens.
“Antibiotics are no more restricted to humans nor limited to treating diseases. The poultry industry uses antibiotics as a growth promoter. Chickens are fed antibiotics so that they gain weight and grow faster,” Narain claimed.
“Common infections are becoming more difficult to treat and antibiotics are becoming ineffective due to increased resistance,” she added.
The study found that 40 percent samples tested positive and residues of more than one antibiotic were found in 17 percent of the samples.
CSE’s deputy director general Chandra Bhushan said the findings were the tip of the iceberg.
“Public health experts have long suspected that such rampant use of antibiotics in animals could be a reason for increasing antibiotic resistance in India. But the government has no data on the use of antibiotics in the country, let alone on the prevalence of antibiotic resistance,” he said.
CSE called upon the government to implement a comprehensive set of regulations including banning use of antibiotics as growth promoters in the poultry industry.
“Not doing this will put lives of people at risk,” warned Narain.
India currently has no regulations to control antibiotic use in the poultry industry or to control sales of antibiotics to the industry.