KENYA – Kenya has flagged meat products sampled from Nakuru County for contamination with coliforms and E. coli with a prevalence of 100 percent, Daily Nation reports.

This comes at a time when a study conducted by scientists in the United States of America (USA) discovered that the E. coli bacteria found in meat is responsible for spiraling Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) in the country.

Over half a million UTIs in the U.S are linked to E. coli strains found in meat sold in grocery stores, the study says.

UTIs usually occur in the bladder or urethra, but more serious infections involve the kidney, with the infections also most common among women.

E.coli is a type of bacteria commonly found in the intestines of animals, including cows and other livestock.

The bacteria can also be found in meat products that come from these animals, especially if the meat is not properly cooked or handled. When humans consume contaminated meat products, the E. coli bacteria can infect the urinary tract, causing painful and uncomfortable UTIs.

The American study was conducted by a team of scientists from the George Washington University (GWU) Milken Institute School of Public Health, led by Lance Price and Cindy Liu. The findings were released on February 28, this year.

They developed a new genomic approach for tracing the origins of E. coli infections and estimated that between 480,000 and 640,000 UTIs are caused by foodborne E. coli strains annually in the US.

Dr. Lance B Price, a Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health and co-Director of the Antibiotic Resistance Action Centre at GWU’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, emphasized the importance of being vigilant about hand hygiene and surface cleanliness when bringing meat products into the home.

E.coli in Kenya

In findings released on March 30, this year, three Kenyan researchers from the Department of Dairy and Food Science and Technology at Egerton University found that meat products they sampled from Nakuru County were contaminated with coliforms and E. coli with a prevalence of 100 percent.

The study, titled “Antimicrobial resistance in meat products in Kenya’’, which has been submitted for review at the Social Science Research Network, is a cross-sectional analysis covering four locations with high populations of consumers of ready-to-eat (RTE) foods.

A total of 105 RTE red meat samples were collected from various outlets and transported to Egerton University for microbial analysis.

The study found that there was a significant difference in the level of total coliforms and E. coli contamination in different meat products, with boiled and stewed RTE meat products having significantly higher contamination levels than offals, roasted meat, and sausages.

According to the report, the sampling location also had a significant effect on the contamination levels, with RTE meat products from Kikopey and Langalanga having significantly lower contamination levels than those from Salgaa, Shabaab, and the Nakuru City centre in Nakuru County.

The study found that all of the E. coli samples had at least two genes that make them resistant to antibiotics. Some samples were resistant to up to four antibiotics.

The E. coli bacteria were found to be most resistant to cotrimoxazole, tetracycline, streptomycin, and ampicillin. The resistance levels varied in different places, with butcheries showing the highest levels of resistance to streptomycin and ampicillin.

A study conducted last year in November under the framework of the Global Burden of Disease, a vast research program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation showed that more deaths were linked to two of the deadliest pathogens – S. aureus and E. coli – than HIV/AIDS (864,000 deaths) in 2019.

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