According to a study to be published in the March issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, contaminated chicken meat has been implicated as a potential source of human urinary tract infections.

The majority of urinary tract infections are caused by extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli (ExPEC, for short), and doctors have long thought that the bacteria originated in the patient’s own body (in feces), and infections were caused when the bacteria entered the urinary tract, either through sexual activity or poor hygiene (such as improper…uh, wiping procedures). But now, because of some outbreaks of ExPEC in developing countries that hinted at external sources of bacteria, researchers are guessing that the infections were caused by contaminated meat, most likely chicken. Egads.

If it is contained in chicken, how can we protect ourselves from getting infections? Same way we always have: wash your hands and properly clean and disinfect potential sources of bacterial contamination during food preparation. But that’s just what we mere consumers can do. Obviously, though, there are potentially larger implications for the food industry, which may be forced to tighten food safety controls in large factory chicken farms. Long overdue, if you ask me.

And, if the chicken connection isn’t ultimately proven, how does one protect oneself from a urinary tract infection?

  1. No sex. But if that isn’t palatable,
  2. Always wipe front to back, and never with chicken.

Read more about this upcoming study in this article from the L.A. Times.