Drug resistant bacteria found in Kienyeji chicken

In Summary

• E. coli in fresh poultry can be passed to people, causing urinary tract infections.

• Households in Kawangware, Kibera, Mukuru, Kariobangi, Dandora, and Mathare slums were tested. 

Chicken in an enclosure. /FILE
Chicken in an enclosure. /FILE

Kienyeji and improved varieties of chicken in Nairobi slums carry drug-resistant bacteria that can make people sick, a study suggests. 

Researchers tested chicken droppings from 150 chicken households in Kawangware, Kibera, Mukuru, Kariobangi, Dandora, and Mathare slums. 

They found more than 57 per cent of them had Escherichia coli while 12 per cent were detected with Salmonella


"E. coli isolates showed resistance to all antibiotics tested except to gentamicin and ciprofloxacin," the researchers say in a study published early this year. 

The study was published in the journal BMC Research Notes.

"Out of the 85 Escherichia coli isolates, the highest resistance observed was to amoxicillin at 54 per cent."

E. coli in fresh poultry can be passed to people, causing urinary tract infections.

While many UTIs present as minor problems that can clear in a week, invasive UTIs that involve the kidneys or blood can be life-threatening.

The researchers, from Kenyatta University, did not isolate the specific E. Coli strains found.

More than 80 percent of UTIs are caused by E. coli, but only a few strains cause the most serious infections.


The researchers who took part in the study are Lydia Langata, John Maingi, Harry Asena, John Kiiru, and Anthony Nyamache.

"Increase in antimicrobial resistance is a threat to the health sector globally. Surveillance on the spread and emergence of antimicrobial resistance is, therefore, invertible," they said.

They called for the proper disposal of chicken waste. 

"Therefore, the wide distribution of chicken and their fecal waste is likely to increase the development of antibiotic resistance," they said.

The study could not determine how the bacteria developed the resistance.

"Their acquisition could be through cross-contamination from humans, prior exposure to antibiotics or from contaminated poultry feeds by resistant microorganisms," the authors added.

Escherichia coli is a bacteria commonly found in the lower intestine of warm-blooded organisms including humans, and chicken.

Last year, researchers from George Washington University found that some strain of Escherichia coli found in retail chicken and turkey products may cause a wide range of infections in people, including UTIs.

They can be neutralized by cooking poultry thoroughly and handling it carefully in the kitchen.

 Currently, the World Health Organization has reported high levels of antimicrobial resistance, indicating a strong correlation with the scale of antibiotic consumption.

Kenya launched a policy and national action plan aimed to reduce Antimicrobial Resistance in 2017.

The joint venture between the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries uses the one-health approach to promote prudent use of antimicrobial agents.

(Edited by N. Mbugua)