E. coli in packaged poultry may be giving you urinary tract infections

E. coli in packaged poultry may be giving you urinary tract infections
Researchers have found e. coli bacteria have the ability to spread through packed poultry products © Shutterstock

Researchers have strong evidence that pathogenic e. coli have the ability to spread through packed poultry products.

Written by Sudhakar Jha |Published : August 29, 2018 4:48 PM IST

UTIs or Urinary Tract Infections are known to pass from person to person, but a new study has brought to notice that retail chicken and other poultry products may cause different types of infections in consumers.

The researchers said that earlier it was believed that e. coli from people and poultry were related to one another, but with this study, it has been proven that the bacteria went from poultry to people and not vice versa.

Writing in the open-access journal mBio, author Dr. Lance B. Price and his colleagues explained that a widely distributed subtype, E. coli ST131 had evolved and could rapidly colonise the human bladder after entering the bloodstream.

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Experts always speculated that the most common ST131 lineage, ST131-H30, spreads from person-to-person, and previous studies have also found that food animals do not play a significant role in this. However, a different lineage, ST131-H22 interested Dr. Price and his team because it s found inside living chickens and turkeys and the meat products made from them.

To assess the same, the team collected and analysed 1,725 blood and urine samples from all UTI cases diagnosed in Flagstaff, Arizona, and also took 2,452 retail meat samples that were purchased twice a month from different grocery chains. And to their surprise, 72 percent of human samples tested positive for some strain of E. coli, and 80 percent matched of those from meat.

Another author, Dr. Cindy Liu, said that the particular e. coli strain was capable of thriving in poultry and causing disease in people. She also added that poultry products could be an important vehicle for bacteria that could cause diseases other than diarrhoea.

Dr. Price also said that the e. coli products are not tested regularly for e. coli strains that could cause UTIs, but their study could change that perception.