Factory Meat Killing Americans with Antibiotic Resistant MRSA Bacteria

The heavy use of antibiotics on industrial livestock farms may be behind the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs, according to a recent study by scientists from Johns Hopkins, the University of North Carolina, and George Washington University. Researchers published their findings in July in the journal PLOS One.

Performed among livestock workers and their household members at hog farms in North Carolina—second only to Iowa in hog production in the country—the study is the first of its kind in the United States.
The study divided subjects into two groups: those who work on industrial hog farms where the use of antibiotics is common practice, and those who work on farms that do not use antibiotics. Using a nasal swab from the workers and their household members to detect and identify newer strains of infectious bacteria, the results of the study were startling even to its authors.
Researchers found that while staph bacteria, including Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), were present in the noses of both industrial farm workers and workers on antibiotic-free farms, MRSA was found at nearly twice the rate in industrial farm workers.
One resistant strain in particular, MRSA ST 389, also known as “pig MRSA” or “livestock-associated MRSA,” was present in the nostrils of 13 of the 41 industrial farm workers who had bacteria in their nose, and in only one of the 42 antibiotic-free farm workers who had bacteria in their nose.

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