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Research/studies | Agriculture, forestry and fishing | Workplace exposures

New strain of MRSA linked to industrial livestock workers: study

July 9, 2013

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Chapel Hill, NC – Industrial livestock workers may be more likely to be exposed to certain types of drug-resistant bacteria than workers at antibiotic-free livestock operations, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.

The study included participants from two farm operations in North Carolina – 99 participants from industrial livestock operations and 105 antibiotic-free livestock operation participants.

Although methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and multidrug-resistant were found at nearly the same prevalence among participants in both operations, new strains known as livestock-associated MRSA and MDRSA were only found among ILO-exposed participants.

In ILO environments, animals are confined in large buildings and given antibiotics in their feed and water supplies. In antibiotic-free livestock operations, animals are generally raised in pastures and not given antibiotics.

Workers in the study only had the presence of the bacteria in their nasal cavity at the time of the study – they were not infected. However, when an infection does occur, treatment can be difficult, according to the study.

The study was published online July 2 in the journal PLOS ONE.