A study has found that the food-contaminating bug E. coli — which can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections and more severe illness in humans — appears to be developing resistance to antibiotics called fluoroquinolones in chickens, reports Reuters.

They found that 30 of the human specimens and 30 of the chicken specimens were resistant to Cipro, a type of fluoroquinolone antibiotic.

The problem is arising largely because of antibiotic treatment of the animals, which forces the microbes to mutate and become resistant.

Since food-borne resistant E. coli can then be transmitted to humans, action to interrupt the transmission of resistant bacteria from animals to humans may become necessary. Researchers suggest that measures could include limiting antimicrobial use in food animals, adopting more hygienic food-processing and distribution practices, irradiating food, and improving kitchen hygiene.

They emphasize that even though the resistant organisms from humans and chickens were less virulent than antibiotic-susceptible human E. coli isolates, they are not benign. The resistant isolates are still capable of causing blood poisoning and acute urinary tract infections in humans.