Studies of the impact of occupational exposure of pharmaceutical workers on the development of antimicrobial drug resistance

Pharmaceutical workers involved with the production of antimicrobial drugs are exposed to various antimicrobial chemicals in different steps of manufacturing such as grinding, sieving, compression, granulation, mixing and filling. These exposures may lead to the development of multidrug resistance (MDR) in bacteria. Scientific reports on the occupational health hazard of pharmaceutical workers involved in manufacturing antibiotics are scarce. The present study aimed to compare the degree of bacterial resistance in pharmaceutical workers in Bangladesh to that of individuals not involved in the pharmaceutical field. Twenty male workers from five local pharmaceutical companies and twenty male subjects not involved in the pharmaceutical field (non-pharmaceutical subjects) were randomly selected. Nasal fluid, mucus/cough and stool specimens were collected from each subject and were cultured separately at 37°C for 24 hours to obtain bacterial growth. The cultured species were then identified, isolated and subjected to microbial sensitivity testing against 18 different antibiotics from eight different groups by the disk diffusion method. Staphylococcus spp., Pseudomonas spp. and Escherichia coli were identified and isolated from the culture of nasal fluids, mucoses and stools, respectively. All the isolated species of bacteria exhibited significant enhancement of the degree of MDR in pharmaceutical workers compared with non-pharmaceutical subjects. Workers with a longer working history had greater degree of antibiotic resistance and vice versa. It can be certainly considered that the exposure of pharmaceutical workers to antibiotic agents resulted in a high incidence of multidrug resistance. The authors concluded that effective steps should be taken to minimize inherent exposure of pharmaceutical workers to antibiotics during work to prevent antimicrobial drug resistance.

Authors: Sarker MM, Islam KN, Huri HZ, Rahman M, Imam H, Hosen MB, Mohammad N, Sarker MZ ;Full Source: Journal of Occupational Health. 2014;56(4):260-70. Epub 2014 Jun 21. ;