Study Reveals Healthy Chickens are Possible Reservoir for Pathogenic Salmonella
UKZN Research Technician Dr Melissa Ramtahal graduated with a PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences following a study using the farm-to-fork approach to assess salmonella contamination in an intensive poultry farm.
Supervised by Professor Sabiha Essack, Ramtahal’s investigation was titled: Molecular Epidemiology of Salmonella in Poultry from Farm-to-Fork in the uMgungundlovu District, KwaZulu-Natal.
The results revealed that healthy chickens could be a reservoir for pathogenic, virulent and antibiotic-resistant salmonella. ‘In South Africa a suitable surveillance system is important to monitor foodborne pathogens such as salmonella to ensure food safety for consumers,’ she said.
‘I enjoy research that focuses on public health significance and as a UKZN employee was given the opportunity to further my studies within the Antimicrobial Research Unit (ARU). I am excited and glad that I was able to complete this. For now, I will remain an employee of UKZN but I do believe that my PhD is a platform that will allow me to explore and take on other opportunities within the research domain.’
Ramtahal says her study experience at UKZN was a long but fulfilling journey with many life and academic lessons learned along the way. ‘I hope to share the knowledge I gained during my PhD with others in the ARU team as well as continue to learn more in the field of molecular epidemiology and antibiotic resistance.’
She said trying to maintain a balance as a permanent employee and a part-time student with a laboratory-based project was a challenge. ‘However, perseverance is key, together with a supportive supervisor like Professor Essack, an amazing research team, faith and focus.’
Words: Nombuso Dlamini
Photograph: Sandile Ndlovu