Chickens raised in India for food have been dosed with some of the strongest antibiotics -"antibiotic of last resort"- that could have repercussions throughout the world. The antibiotics 'colistin' only used in the most extreme cases of sickness - are shipped to India each year to be used, without medical supervision.
A study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that hundreds of tonnes of colistin, described as an antibiotic of last resort, have been shipped to India for the routine treatment of animals, mainly chickens, on farms.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for the use of such antibiotics, which it calls "critically important to human medicine", to be restricted in animals and banned as growth promoters. Their continued use in farming increases the chance bacteria will develop resistance to them, leaving them useless when treating patients.
The finding by the investigative report is startling because the use of such powerful drugs can lead to an increasing resistance among farm animals around the world. Colistin is regarded as one of the last lines of defence against serious diseases, including pneumonia, which cannot be treated with other medicines. Without these drugs, diseases that were commonly treatable in the last century will become deadly once again.