Researchers have long believed that urinary tract infections (UTI) were caused by E. coli bacteria in a person’s own gastrointestinal tract.
But after analyzing genomes of the bacteria in women with UTIs, the study’s authors found that the strains of E. coli in the women matched strains of E. coli found in retail chicken meat. According to the researchers, the bacteria did not come from any contamination during the preparation process, but from the chicken itself.
The CDC also analyzed strains of E. coli from other types of meat, including beef and pork, but those retail meats were significantly less likely to have the same strand of E. coli found in those with UTIs.
A major concern listed in the research revolved around the recent emergence of antibiotic-resistant E. coli in the last decade, which the researchers found in some of the samples they tested.
“The management of UTIs, which was previously straightforward, has become more complicated,” the CDC said on its website. “The risks for treatment failure are higher, and the cost of UTI treatment is increasing.”
The scientists have proposed a possible intervention into modern farming methods to help reduce the risk for contamination.