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Medicine Science

New Avenue For MRSA 'Superbug': Pigs 135

smitty777 writes with news that researchers have discovered another way methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria are developing resistance to antibiotics. According to the study (abstract), the bacteria made the jump to pigs on livestock farms, developed greater resistance through the rounds of antibiotics commonly used to keep the pigs healthy, and then jumped back to humans. "The important development in the story of ST398 is its move back off the farm into humans, causing first asymptomatic carriage in that original family, and then illnesses in other Dutch residents, and then outbreaks in healthcare settings, and then movement across oceans, and then appearance in retail meat, and then infections in people who had no connection whatsoever to farming—all from an organism with a distinctive agricultural signature. That’s an important evolution, and an illustration once again that, as soon as resistance factors emerge, we really have no idea where they will spread. So it would be a good idea to take actions to keep them from emerging, or at the very least to implement surveillance that would allow us to identify them when they do."
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New Avenue For MRSA 'Superbug': Pigs

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  • by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:25PM (#39154185)

    The risk has been known for some time, and thus the practice is mostly banned in the EU, with the exception of two compounds used in poultry feed.

    In the US it is mostly unregulated, and nearly 70% of antibiotics are used for animal feed.

    Can't say I am terribly surprised.

  • by medv4380 ( 1604309 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:41PM (#39154355)
    Humans are Omnivores for a reason. Meat eaters are healthier then vegetarians because it is overly complex to match the incomplete proteins in plants all the time. If we were intended to eat just vegetables we would have multiple stomachs like cattle do so that we'd be able to get those vitamins and proteins easier. A good number of Primates eat meat as well for the same reason. The Illusion that Vegetarians are "healthier" is because they typically are more "health conscious" and go to the doctor frequently, watch their weight, and all the other hypochondriac things they have to do.
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:54PM (#39154473) Homepage Journal

    Seriously, why was it considered ok to dump antibiotics into animal feed? It seems like total idiocy from this angle, regardless of the short term benefits.

    One reason I became a vegetarian was because I learned about all the antibiotics in Pork/Beef/Poultry. I suffered severe Streptococcus infections in the respiratory system. When learning I was effectively on Antibotics, constantly, due to my diet, thus prescription antibiotics were having no observable effect, I realized I was fighting Streptococcus which was already resistant, thus I was getting these painful and long duration infections.

    Understand this: Antibiotics are targeted toxins, most likely to have a greater effect upon certain organisims, while there would be some collateral effect upon the host, including degradation of the immune system.

    After about 2 years without antibiotic-laden foods I found I stave off these infections more effectively and when I have them the duration is significantly decreased.

    Keeping like livestock (or plants) in a dense concentration provides an ideal breeding ground for organisms to prey upon them, further, to mutate as the turnover can be far more rapid than in the wild. Add to that antibiotics and you have the ideal incubator for super-bugs. Victims of our own way of production. Won't get better with bigger factory farms, either, it's a cycle which builds upon itself.

  • by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:32PM (#39154755)

    "..I would be arrested."

    No you wouldn't. You can buy many prescription antibiotics without a prescription at your local pet store. Sometime look at what is sold over the counter, in the fish section. Larger quantities can be found farm supply stores.
      It's the same stuff with "not for human consumption" labels.

  • by ChromeAeonium ( 1026952 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:33PM (#39154761)

    Anyone not aware of the risks GMO's are posing on society should really do some reading.

    Anyone who bought into the fearmongering and often times outright lies [] of the anti-GE campaign should do some reading. []

    The scientists that are developing these seeds and pesticides wont even go near them because there is no long-term research on what risks they could offer 10 or 20 years from now.

    Funny, I've spoken with scientists who do just that. I didn't notice them eating any differently than anyone else. I've transformed plants before. I have no problem eating genetically engineered food. I do it all the time.

    And there has been long term research (unless you define long term as X+5 so you can always keep moving that goalpost). Darnedest thing is though, what hasn't been done is for someone to propose a plausible mechanism as to why GE crops would be dangerous. We know the genes inserted (cry genes, epsps, bar, nptII, PRSV/CMV coat protein genes) are safe, but for all the cries of 'what might happen' no one has explained what in GE crops allegedly hurts you, how it is produced, its mode of action, ect. I suppose GE crops could kill us all 20 years down the road, but only in the same sense that the smallpox vaccine could do the same thing, or that there could be an invisible heatless dragon in my garage waiting to eat me. After so much study has been done, you can only play the appeal to ignorance card for so long, then the burden of proof shifts to the people believing that to prove it.

    Scarey shit.

    What's scary is that agriculture is staring down an increasing population, global climate change, increasing energy costs, peak phosphorus, increasing pressure on fresh water resources, evolving pests and pathogens, desertification, deforestation, greater demand for animal protein, and agriculture has to take care l that without expanding the amount of land under the plow, and we've got people having not based in science blanket opposition to what will probably go down as the most significant breakthrough in plant improvement since unraveling Mendelian genetics. Now THAT is scary.

  • Be careful (Score:4, Informative)

    by yog ( 19073 ) * on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:47PM (#39154845) Homepage Journal

    Wash your hands after handling meat, wash all the implements and counter tops that may come into contact with raw meat. Cook the meat well.

    Be careful with restaurants; to minimize your chances of exposure, just say no to eating out unless you can't avoid it. Once in a while is OK but several times a week is a good way to pick something up, if not MRSA then hep-C or some other nasty microbe that the waiter carried to your plate from someone else's plate. If you don't see the waiters wash their hands after taking your plates away, then you can bet they didn't wash their hands after taking the previous customer's plates either. When the water boy comes over to refill your glass, hand it to him by the rim, so he's forced to pick it up by the bottom. Use a straw.

    And stay out of hospitals. Those places can make you sick. MRSA is one nasty infection that you don't want to get, but there are others as well. Basically it's a rather closed environment full of sick people, and also full of well people carrying the germs from one sick person to another, and your life may depend on how well they washed and sanitized their hands before touching you.

    This may seem kind of paranoid, but we live in an increasingly crowded and mobile world where a nasty little microbe in some little corner of the globe can make its way into your soup literally days or hours later.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Friday February 24, 2012 @09:00PM (#39154929) Homepage Journal

    It's considered ok because there isn't any real scientific evidence there is an issue. And it's been studied since at least 1990.

    Do you want to cite some of those studies to back up your claim? A quick Pubmed search [] turns up a whole lot of papers indicating that the use of antibiotics in animal feed is a major contributor the rise of resistant strains.

  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Saturday February 25, 2012 @09:49AM (#39157863)

    Private Eye have been saying this for at least the past decade, but no-one really wanted to know.

    Pumping animals full of antibiotics mean that they divert less internal biological resources like protein and fat to fighting infections, and bulk up instead. But those antibiotics just encourage the evolution of resistant bacteria that can survive in those conditions.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas