As if we didn’t have enough to worry about during the holiday travel season, now there’s a new road hazard: deadly bacteria. And it comes to you courtesy of your pals in the chicken industry.
In case you don’t happen to be a regular reader of the Journal of Infection and Public Health, a recent study found that driving behind trucks taking chickens to slaughter could expose the car’s occupants to the aforementioned deadly bacteria. And not just any bacteria. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
You see, chickens (like other animals raised and killed for food) spend their short lives living in filth. By which I mean they stand around in sh—um, sheds. Filled with their own feces. This makes a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. And to keep the chickens from dying horribly from infections before they can be killed horribly at the slaughterhouse, the poor birds are pumped full of antibiotics, giving rise to—you guessed it!—bacteria that can’t be killed by antibiotics.
OK, so the poor chickens are crammed into open crates that are loaded onto a flatbed truck. The wind blows over them (half-freezing them in winter) and also carrying the germ-laden feces into the air. And if you’re traveling behind the truck … well, you do the math.
Now, of course, the best way to prevent this health hazard would be to stop using chickens for food—something you can help along by going vegetarian. But, so long as people continue to eat birds, we think they should be aware of the risks. Since the study was done in the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia region, we’re urging officials in those states to post signs on roads and trucks to warn motorists of the dangers.
Still, even if you live in the balmier parts of the world, you might want to drive with your windows up and no outside air flow until all this, uh … blows over.
Written by Jeff Mackey