Study shows animal agriculture as a source
of Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccus aureus (MRSA). The deadly bacteria once thought only to occur in
hospitals and has caused up to 19,000 deaths
in 2005 in the US - nearly 2,000 more victims than HIV/AIDS killed
The new study (Khanna et al. 2007), published in
Veterinary Microbiology, identified MRSA on 45% of 20 Ontario farms in
nearly one in four pigs and one in five farmers. A strain of bacteria common to
human MRSA infections in Canada was found in the Ontario pigs and pig farmers
Previous studies pointed to MRSA occurring mainly in
hospitals, however, the new Veterinary Microbiology study indicates that pig
farms may be a possible source of this infection.
Activists are calling
on Congress to order the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate
whether the surge in MRSA infections (100,000 in 2005) is caused by the use of
human antibiotics in animal agriculture.
David Wallinga, MD, Director of
the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Food and Health Programme,
stated that in view of the latest findings that pig farms may be a source of
MRSA, the FDA and other agencies should receive funding quickly to carry out
US veterinarians are recognised carriers of MRSA. 27
attendees at a 2005 international veterinary convention in Baltimore tested
positive for the bacteria. Of the 27, 23 were from the US.
A study in
Europe already indicated that the use of antibiotics on pig farms on a routine
basis, increased the possibility of MRSA.
â€¢ US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
â€¢ Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy's Food and Health Programme
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