Transporting Broiler Chickens Could Spread Antibiotic-Resistant Organisms


Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have found evidence of a novel pathway for potential human exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from intensively raised poultry—driving behind the trucks transporting broiler chickens from farm to slaughterhouse. A study by the Hopkins 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. The study is the first to look at exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from the transportation of poultry. The findings are published in the first issue of the Journal of Infection and Public Health.

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. Previous studies have reported that these crates become contaminated with feces and bacteria.

The new study was conducted on the Delmarva Peninsula—a coastal region shared by Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, which has one of the highest densities of broiler chickens per acre in the United States.

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