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Why your chicken, beef and pork may no longer be safe

Health & Science - By Graham Kajilwa | November 16th 2018 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

You could soon be bedridden from a simple bacterial infection such as a sore throat because your body has refused to respond to treatment by antibiotics.

This is because the high levels of antibiotics ingested through food make your body resistant to treatment.

The Ministry of Health has warned that antibiotics could soon be less effective to fight infections because farmers use them to fatten animals.

The antibiotics get into our bodies mainly through consumption of chicken, pork and beef, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Julia Kinyua, from the Department of Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture, said many smallscale farmers have almost no knowledge of the dangers of using antibiotics as they seek to maximise profits.

This emerged on Wednesday during the World Antibiotics Awareness Week which runs until November 18.

That is notwithstanding, by 2050, the demand for beef in Kenya will increase by 170 per cent, eggs by 500 per cent and pork by 200 per cent when the population will be 96 million.

Eric Fevre, from International Livestock Research Institute, which conducted studies on the use of antibiotics in fattening animals around Thika, said almost all poultry farmers used antibiotics.

Prescriptions needed

“What was also noted was that while at times prescriptions are needed in buying medicines from pharmacies, one did not need the same when buying these antibiotics from a veterinary,” said Prof Fevre.

Sam Kariuki, a researcher from the Kenya Medical Research Institute, said that at times farmers used antibiotics for lack of knowledge.

“Ideally, nobody wants to lose many chickens when that is their only source of livelihood. But the question should be, are there any alternatives?” said Prof Kariuki.

Resistance to antibiotics can be worsened with diseases caused by infected animals, said Janet Siele.

This mainly affects children under the age of five because their immunity is still fragile.

For example, one can be infected by the salmonellosis bacteria found in eggs, while other bacterial infections can be acquired by ingesting raw or poorly cooked meat and unpasteurised milk.

“We get these infections through poorly handled food, especially when prepared in unhygienic conditions or through human to human contact if one person in infected,” said Dr Siele.

Some of the infections, depending on their severity, can cause multi-organ failure and even death.

Edible aquatic animals such as fish and toads contain some of the dangerous bacteria and need special cooking to get rid of them. Some species of mushrooms are not edible.


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