A  A  A   Print
Some Farm Workers Harbor Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, Study Finds

Some Farm Workers Harbor Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, Study Finds

WEDNESDAY, July 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new study has raised more concerns about the widespread use of antibiotics in U.S. livestock.

Researchers swabbed the noses of workers at two types of livestock farms in North Carolina. They found antibiotic-resistant bacteria associated with livestock in workers at industrial farms where animals are kept in confinement and given antibiotics to promote their growth.

The noses of workers who handle antibiotic-free livestock set out in pastures did not contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the study, which was published July 2 in the journal PLoS One.

The research team was looking for antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, including the tough-to-treat methicillin-resistant S. aureus, known as MRSA.

"This study shows that these livestock-associated strains are present among workers at industrial livestock operations, and that these strains are resistant not just to methicillin, but to multiple antibiotics -- including antibiotics that are used to treat human infections," study corresponding author Christopher Heaney, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences and epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore, said in a school news release.

S. aureus can cause a range of illnesses in people, from minor to life-threatening skin, bloodstream, respiratory, urinary and surgical-site infections. Like most illnesses caused by bacteria, S. aureus infections are treated with antibiotics, but drug-resistant strains can be especially difficult to treat.

Multidrug-resistant strains of S. aureus bacteria were about twice as common among industrial livestock operation workers as among antibiotic-free livestock farm workers. And S. aureus strains that were resistant to tetracycline -- an antibiotic used in industrial livestock production since the 1950s -- were 19 times more common among industrial livestock operation workers than among those at antibiotic-free livestock farms.

The workers weren't showing signs of infection at the time of the study.

Although the study showed an association between exposure to animals given antibiotics and development of drug-resistant bacteria, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about antibiotic resistance.

SOURCE: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, news release, July 2, 2013

 
Today's Interactive Tools

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.