There’s a new baddie in our meat – klebsiella, a could-be-fatal meat bacteria, is often overlooked as it is a pathogen that does not cause immediate infection. Instead, the small, stubborn organism can become extremely dangerous if left untreated.
People have gotten used to the more common and more famous bacteria like Salmonella or Campylobacter, but it seems that public-health has forgotten to turn its eyes to the lesser organisms, which often remain untreated. We’ve even been taught time and again that ice cream may carry listeria, or that that spinach has E.coli in it.
But, has anyone stopped you to warn you about the dangers of Klebisella pneumoniae?
I reckon not. But now, there’s a study which got published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, which highlights the fact that turkey, pork, as well as chicken meat can carry this bacteria easily. The worrying fact is that these strains of bacteria can cause severe illness for a lot of people, and are known to be able to resist multiple types of antibiotics.
The problem now is that the health officials of the U.S. government – mainly the CDC – have not made it a habit to check for the bacteria. The pathogen is opportunistic and it can very easily spread from a single infected individual on to a whole hospital.
The man eats some meat bought at the supermarket which places the bacteria in his guts. He can now develop three distinct conditions: pneumonia, meningitis, as well as a range of bloodstream infections. The patient could enter a hospital with hopes of treating whichever one of these. Once there, the possibilities for the organism are endless.
The patient may be fed antibiotics, as per usual, which may cause diarrhea. The poor, unknowing victim will now infect not only the surfaces in the hospital through his skin, but will even contaminate the air. From here, the whole hospital is prone to a collective infection which could be fatal for many if the hospital is not properly equipped or trained to deal with a phenomena at such great scale.
And it is often multiple drug resistant. The CDC has ranked this form of the bacteria an urgent health threat.
This new study, conducted in Flagstaff, Arizona, shows that the bacteria was found in 47% of the products containing meat as well as 10% in the urine samples of the patients in the hospital. They used such a small town because this is where such a bacteria can do the most damage.
Concluding, the researchers point to the fact that it is the use of antibiotics in food animals that has made the drug so resistant in the first place, along with all the treatment patients get from the hospital.
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