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Study shows pig farms a source of MRSA

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 that year.

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 studied.

Possible source
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 sampling.

Veterinarians
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.

Related websites:
• US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
• Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Food and Health Programme

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