London, Sep 23 – Potentially deadlier strains of food poisoning bugs are spreading in farm animals in Britain.
These superbugs have become resistant to antibiotics used in treating infections in both animals and humans.
Doctors are finding it increasingly difficult to treat people who fall ill after coming into contact with the bugs through food or other routes.
One superbug, ESBL E.coli, was first found at one British farm in 2008. It is now circulating in 37 percent of the country’s dairy farms, reports the Daily Mail.
The incidence is much higher, 59 percent, in farms which bought cattle from the original source farm in Wales.
Similar strains of E.coli have been implicated in human illnesses such as urinary tract and blood infections, particularly among the elderly.
ESBL E. coli infections affect approximately 30,000 people each year in Britain alone, causing 2,500 cases of blood poisoning. Half of all blood poisoning cases prove fatal within 30 days.
The source of these infections is unclear but it is thought only a small proportion — less than one percent — is linked to food.
One expert from the government’s Health Protection Agency will tell a conference at the University of Warthe-wick that further mutations of E.coli would have ‘immense public health implications.’
Separately, there are concerns about new forms of salmonella that appear to spread through pigs and potentially pork.
A report presented to the conference warns ‘such strains have now caused outbreaks and incidents of infection in at least 10 European countries with one death reported in at least one outbreak’.