|Fluoroquinolones Not Used in the Poultry Industry
Last week, researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) reported finding some fluoroquinolone-resistant E. coli on chicken meat.
The E. coli resistant to fluoroquinolones observed in the recent Canberra study is definitely not the result of the use of fluoroquinolone in the poultry industry. Fluoroquinolones are not and never have been approved for use in chickens in Australia.
The resistant E. coli were most likely acquired as a result of an environmental or human contamination during chicken production, processing or delivery and distribution. The rate of fluoroquinolone resistant E. coli found is consistent with environmental contamination, and roughly equivalent to the rate of fluoroquinolone resistance that would be seen in the human population in Australia.
Fluoroquinolones are critically important antibiotics in human medicine.
Unlike many other countries, Australia has a very conservative approach to the use of antibiotics in food producing animals. Consequently, antibiotics of last resort in human medicine are not allowed to be used in livestock.
The poultry industry is strongly supportive of this cautious approach and actively promotes the judicious use of antibiotics to ensure minimal likelihood that resistance develops while ensuring the birds’ health and welfare are taken care of appropriately.
The poultry industry is well aware of the potential danger that antibiotic resistance represents to human health and advocates and supports a conservative and judicious use of antibiotics in animal production to ensure antibiotics remain effective.
Dr Stephen Page, an expert on antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance in the veterinary field, was clear: “There is no clinical need for fluoroquinolones in Australian chicken production. Most infectious disease is prevented by high standards of bird husbandry, nutrition, hygiene, vaccination and biosecurity. When bacterial disease does appear there is no need for the use of fluoroquinolones as the bacteria causing disease are generally sensitive to much less important antibacterial agents.”