New Delhi, Aug 31 (PTI) A recent study had pointed out the risks involved in relishing chicken delicacies as poultry farms may be sprouting bugs resistant to antibiotics.

However, according to the findings of a Centre for Science and Environment study, the ‘palak saag’ (spinach) may not be entirely safe either. The pathogens are closer home than previously thought.

Bacteria that are resistant to routine antibiotics or superbugs, found in poultry farms in states like Punjab, are now spreading in the environment due to unsafe disposal of litter and waste, which are also being used as manure in agricultural lands, the CSE has found.

This has potentially disastrous consequences as a multi- drug resistant bacteria infection can be life threatening, according to CSE researchers.

“Misuse of antibiotics in poultry farms is leading to a proliferation of multi-drug resistant bacteria. To make matters worse, these bacteria are now spreading in the environment because of unsafe disposal of poultry litter and waste in agricultural fields,” the study titled ‘Antibiotic Resistance in Poultry Environment’ says.

The CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Laboratory collected samples of litter and soil from in and around 12 randomly selected poultry farms located in four key poultry-producing states – Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab.

If any bacteria are resistant to antibiotics of at least three classes, they are considered as multi-drug resistant.

“Antibiotic misuse is common in the poultry sector. What makes the situation worse is the fact that the sector is also plagued with poor waste management,” Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general, CSE, said.

A total of 217 isolates of three types of bacteria – E.

coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus lentus – were extracted and tested for resistance against 16 antibiotics, 10 of which have been declared Critically Important (CI) for humans by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae cause infections in human beings which are becoming difficult to treat due to high resistance.In some of the isolates, all antibiotics that we tested were ineffective. If these bacteria infect a human, then hardly any medicine will work as cure,” Bhushan said.

The CSE said the environment ministry along with the central and state pollution control Boards should play a greater role by enacting necessary laws and standards as well as ensuring regular monitoring and surveillance to tackle the situation.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.