The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) joins the fight against antibiotic resistance from farm to fork under the ‘One Health’ approach. This is demonstrated by the doctoral thesis “Zoonotic potential of Escherichia coli and other Enterobacteriaceae isolated from poultry meat: a study of antibiotic resistance and definition of pathogenic clonal groups for humans”. Its author is Dafne Díaz Jiménez. She was under the direction of the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and professor of the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology of the USC Azucena Mora Gutiérrez.

This research was funded under two national projects. It was presented at the State Research Agency, and evaluated by leading scientists in the areas of Animal Health and Microbiology. It concludes that reducing antibiotic pressure in poultry production and monitoring bacterial evolution are two public health priorities.

Research Objectives and Methodological Contributions

Dafne Díaz addresses in her doctoral thesis some of the priority risks for society, such as food safety or antibiotic resistance. It is the compendium of several scientific articles. In his research, he analyzed poultry meat (chicken and turkey) purchased directly at points of sale. This with the aim of using the end point of the production system to evaluate the entire chain “from farm to fork”.

This approach already involves an innovative aspect. Traditional procedures only recognize and control the diarrhoeal Escherichia coli group as foodborne pathogens. The results obtained by Díaz Jiménez in his thesis outline, however, another scenario, since they confirm the important role that food plays as potential transmitters of E. coli.

Another of the relevant methodological contributions presented by Dafne Díaz Jiménez’s research refers to the design of an adequate laboratory workflow to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the microbiological risk of meat and that includes a specific PCR technique for the detection of E. coli .

Results Collected in Research

On the other hand, the results determine that the microbiota of poultry meat is a source of genetically diverse enterobacteria. They are resistant to antimicrobials relevant to human clinical therapy (EMA categories A and B) and potentially pathogenic to humans. This group includes hybrid E. coli pathotypes and clonal groups of Klebsiella pneumoniae of clinical interest.

At this juncture, the research advocates the highly recommended implementation of systematic monitoring of resistant bacteria, in addition to E. coli pathogens in food at the consumer’s own points of sale. This measure, explains Díaz Jiménez, would act as a monitoring tool “from farm to table” from the One Health strategy.

Thesis Defense

María Rosa Caro Vergara, Professor of Animal Health at the University of Murcia, chaired the panel in charge of evaluating the doctoral thesis. She was defended in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Lugo Campus. Also present was Ana María Carvajal, Professor of Animal Health at the University of León. Finally, with the professor of the Department of Microbiology and Parasitology of the USC Ana María Otero Casal, the evaluation jury was completed. They awarded this research the highest grade of outstanding cum laude.

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Dafne Diaz's thesis on antibiotic resistance in poultry

Dafne Diaz’s thesis on antibiotic resistance in poultry. Photo: Unsplash. Credits: Karim Manjra

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