Bangladesh needs campaign to tackle antibiotic overuse


Antibiotic overuse in poultry farming in Bangladesh is breeding the rise of ‘superbugs’ that cannot be managed with traditional treatments, according to multiple studies.

A study by the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI) found three serotypes of Salmonella that were resistant to 17 antibiotics in different percentages in chicken samples collected from 29 wet markets in Dhaka. The resistance ranged from 6.7% to 100%.

“This is extremely alarming as it poses a big threat to public health,” Mohammed Abdus Samad, Lead Researcher and Head of the AMR Surveillance Laboratory at BLRI, told The Daily Star.


Mr Samad’s comment comes on the heels of a surveillance study by the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, which found almost all clinically important and widely used antibiotics have lost their effectiveness by more than 50%.

Salmonella is one of the four key global causes of diarrheal diseases in humans, according to the WHO.

The overall prevalence of multiple types of Salmonella was the highest in broiler chickens (8.6%), followed by Sonali chickens (6.9%) and native chickens (3.1%), found the study, whose sample collection took place between February and December 2019.

Of those, 29 bacteria were multidrug-resistant (MDR), 15 were resistant to seven antibiotics, four to eight antibiotics, and one to 10 antibiotics.

The 17 antibiotics tested include ciprofloxacin, streptomycin, tetracycline, gentamicin, nalidixic acid, ampicillin, meropenem, ceftazidime, ceftriaxone, cefotaxime, and aztreonam.

The BLRI researchers concluded in their study that antibiotics were used the most in broiler chicken production, followed by Sonali chicken production.

One health

A robust campaign is needed to make the industry stakeholders aware that excessive use of antibiotics does not help. It is rather detrimental for human health and adds to the costs, said Sukanta Chowdhury, Associate Scientist at the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh told The Daily Star.

To tackle the antimicrobial resistance (AMR), all health management – human, animal, and nature – must be brought under the ‘One Health’ approach. One health recognizes that human health is closely connected to the health of animals and the shared environment.

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