In Brief

December 27, 2007

Poultry work tied to resistance

E. coli

Antibiotic use in poultry processing has been controversial for decades, but researchers now say workers who handle "broiler chickens" in manufacturing plants are at risk of contracting drug-resistant E. coli and spreading it in communities.

Public health investigators at the Johns Hopkins University estimate that workers in poultry factories in the United States are 32 times more likely to be colonized with E. coli that repels the antibiotic gentamicin than other people. The drug is used to treat both poultry and humans.

Lance Price, who led a study evaluating antibiotic use in the broiler-chicken industry, theorizes that worker exposure serves as a conduit of gentamicin-resistant E. coli to communities at large. As industry workers interact with others, resistant strains can spread exponentially, ultimately rendering the drug useless.

Price's research, reported in this month's issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, found that gentamicin is used more than any other antibiotic. Birds are given antibiotics when they are sick, to prevent illnesses, and for growth enhancement.

Consumers can be exposed to drug-resistant bacteria during chicken preparation, Price said, but following strict rules of hygiene, and keeping raw fowl separated from other foods, can prevent colonization. Chickens also can harbor other bacteria.



Milk and egg allergies can often stick around long past age 3, and even age 8

A recent study at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center found that milk and egg allergies could be harder to outgrow than previously thought.

A research team observed more than 800 patients with milk allergies and almost 900 with egg allergies over a span of 13 years. The findings of the study, possibly the largest one to date of children with milk and egg allergies, contradict earlier research.

Previous findings indicated that three-quarters of children outgrew milk allergies by age 3. In the recent study, only one-fifth of the children outgrew the allergy by age 4, and only 42 percent by age 8. By age 16, 79 percent were allergy-free. Within the egg-allergy group, only 4 percent of children outgrew the allergy by age 4 and 37 percent by age 10. By age 16, 68 percent had outgrown it.

Jennifer Choi


Patients more likely to smile about their smiles than their dentists are

Both patients and dentists think a nice smile is important, but many people appear to be satisfied with smiles on which their dentists would frown.

Dentists in Norway asked 78 patients to rate their own smiles on a 100-point satisfaction scale, while the patients' own dentists and an independent periodontist also rated the smiles. The patients' average rating was 59.1; the dentists' average rating was 40.7 and the independent periodontists', 38.6.

Study co-author Oystein Fardal said patients rate their smiles from memory that might be inaccurate. The dentists, however, looked carefully at tooth shading, spacing and crowding and lip lines.

The research, published in December's Journal of the American Dental Association, shows that dentists shouldn't assume patients are content or unhappy with their smiles. Even though aesthetic dentistry is big business, many people like the way they look.

"I certainly think patients should ask their dentists' opinions about their smiles if they feel the need to," says Fardal, a periodontist. "However, it is debatable whether dentists should provide their opinions nonprompted."

Los Angeles Times

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