Chicken from supermarkets, restaurants and other outlets may place young women at risk of urinary tract infections (UTI), McGill University researcher Amee Manges has discovered.
Samples of chicken taken in the Montreal area provide strong new evidence that Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria originating from these food sources can cause common urinary tract infections.
Manges explained that eating contaminated meat or food does not directly lead to a UTI. While some E. coli such as O157:H7 can cause serious intestinal disease, the E. coli bacteria found in chicken meat can live in the intestine without causing problems. In women however, the bacteria can travel from the anus to the vagina and urethra during sex, which can lead to the infection.
Manges and her colleagues are also investigating whether livestock may be passing antimicrobial-resistant bacteria on to humans. This is due to the use of antibiotics to treat or prevent disease in the animals and to enhance their growth. When animals are slaughtered and their meat is processed for sale, the meat can be contaminated with these bacteria.
Manges advises that consumers should cook meat thoroughly and prevent contamination of other foods in the kitchen. Although some infections caused by these E. coli are resistant to some antibiotics, the infections can still be treated. Manges hopes that understanding how these bacteria are transmitted will help reduce infections. She also hopes more attention will be focused on how meat is processed and prepared.
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Source: McGill University