January 23, 2009

Study Connects MRSA in Swine and Swine Workers

Center for a Livable Future

Center for a Livable Future

A new study published by the University of Iowa connects Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Midwestern US swine farms and swine workers and suggests transmission between the two. Prior to the study, there was only knowledge of the prevalence of this bacterium in locations including the Netherlands and Canada. MRSA is resistant to a wide array of antibiotics, and this University of Iowa study linked MRSA with an estimated 94,000 infections and over 18,000 deaths in the United States in 2005, based on data taken from several metropolitan areas.

In one of the two production systems that were studied, there was a MRSA prevalence found in 49% of the swine, and 45% in workers. Since one specific strain (ST398) was found both in animals and humans, scientists determined a clear transmission between the swine and the famers.  However, in the second production system they did not find MRSA in either the animal or the human samples. 

One of the scientists concluded that, “These results show that colonization of swine by MRSA was very common on one swine production system in the Midwestern U.S., suggesting that agricultural animals could become an important reservoir for this bacterium.”

The scientists did not conclude why there was such a discrepancy between the two production samples, and as such, suggest future research to delve even further into the depths of MRSA and its clear pertinence in today’s world.