LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — More than half of the cases in Michigan of a specific bacterial food borne illness harbors genes that offer resistance to antibiotics.

Michigan State University researchers, working with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, found more than half of the strains of the bacteria Campylobacter jejuni causing disease in Michigan had resistance to at least one antibiotic.

The bacteria is commonly associated with consuming undercooked or raw poultry or other things that have touched undercooked or raw poultry. Most people can fight off the infection on their own. But some will develop severe complications that can result in hospitalization or death.

 Shannon Manning led the project and is an MSU Research Foundation Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. While the disease causing potential for the bacteria is concerning, the fact is bacteria can trade genes — including those that confer resistance to antibiotics — has larger implications says Manning.

“Foodborne pathogens are ubiquitous. They are found in the foods we eat but also in animals and environments that we come into contact with regularly,” Manning said. “If they carry resistance genes, then not only can they make us sick, but they can also easily transfer the genes to other bacteria.”