Researchers have found evidence of a surprising pathway for potential human exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from intensively raised poultry: driving behind trucks carrying chickens!

Researchers found increased levels of pathogenic bacteria, both susceptible and drug-resistant, on surfaces and in the air inside cars traveling behind trucks that carry broiler chickens. Typically, broiler chickens are transported in open crates on the back of flatbed trucks with no effective barrier to prevent release of pathogens into the environment. These crates become contaminated with feces and bacteria. Researchers collected air and surface samples from cars driving two to three car lengths behind the poultry trucks for a distance of 17 miles. The cars were driven with both air conditioners and fans turned off, with the windows fully opened. Air samples collected inside the cars showed increased concentrations of bacteria (including antibiotic-resistant strains) that could be inhaled by the driver and passengers. The same bacteria were also found deposited on a soda can inside the car and on the outside door handle, where they could potentially be touched.

Researcher Ana Rule says, “We were expecting to find some antibiotic-resistant organisms since it?s pretty clear that the transportation conditions for these chickens are not closed or contained. Our study shows that there is a real exposure potential, especially during the summer months, when people are driving with the windows down; the summer is also a time of very heavy traffic in Delmarva by vacationers driving to the shore resorts.”

The strains of bacteria collected were found to be resistant to three antimicrobial drugs widely used to treat bacterial infections in people. These drugs are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use as feed additives for poultry.

Art credit:

Sometimes it’s hard to see what’s really going on. That’s why you need this website! But 2009 will be a tough year for us too?in fact, we may not be able to continue into the future without your help! So subscribe today! And please consider giving us a Christmas present by clicking on the “donate” tab on our homepage too.

NOTE: This news story, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.

Dreamland Video podcast
To watch the FREE video version on YouTube, click here.

Subscribers, to watch the subscriber version of the video, first log in then click on Dreamland Subscriber-Only Video Podcast link.