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Use of norfloxacin in poultry production in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia and its possible impact on public health

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Samples of market-ready chicken muscle and liver from 32 local broiler farms were first screened for antibiotic residues by microbiological assay. The antibiotic-residue-positive muscles and livers from 22 farms were further analysed for norfloxacin (NFX) residues by high performance liquid chromatography. NFX was detected in 35.0% and 56.7% of raw antibiotic-residue-positive muscles and livers, respectively. The NFX-positive muscles and livers were respectively obtained from 11 (50.0%) and 14 (63.6%) of the 22 antibiotic-residue-positive farms. Since the maximum residue limit (MRL) for NFX has not yet been fixed, the MRL for enrofloxacin was used in the study. All NFX-positive farms had mean raw tissue levels, which were 2.7- to 34.3-fold higher than the MRL. Although cooking markedly reduced NFX tissue concentrations, mean detectable levels remained above MRL in large proportions of NFX-positive samples and farms. Susceptibility patterns of Enterobacteriaceae isolates from chicken and human patients to NFX showed alarmingly high rates of resistance in chicken isolates especially among Escherichia coli (45.9%) and Pseudomonas spp. (70.6%) compared with patients' isolates (10.5% and 18.2%, respectively). The study reveals widespread misuse of NFX in the local poultry industry, which may pose a major risk to public health including possible stimulation of bacterial resistance and hypersensitivity reactions to fluoroquinolones. More prudent use of fluoroquinolones in food-producing animals is therefore recommended. Further, there is a need to establish MRL values for NFX.
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Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, King Faisal University, P.O. Box 2114, Dammam 31451, Saudi Arabia

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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