Pork: Now With 50% More MRSA!

Researchers and activists have long been concerned about feeding animals antibiotics, and the meat industry has long defended the practice and claimed that studies do not prove that doing so increases bacterial resistance to antibiotics.

But in a recent study scientists demonstrated how a pathogen could make the leap from humans to pigs, gain resistance, and then leap back:

Price and colleagues in 19 countries did whole-genome analysis on a Staph strain called CC398 and 88 closely related variations. CC398 is a so-called MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, that emerged within the past decade in pigs and has since spread widely in cattle and poultry as well as pigs.

The genetic analysis allowed the study authors to trace the lineage of the livestock bug back to its antibiotic-susceptible human ancestors. Price says it shows beyond doubt that the animal bacterium jumped back into humans with close exposure to livestock.

Perhaps the most disturbing news is the prevalence of MRSA in American pork products: nearly 50% of sampled U.S. pork contained the antibiotic resistant “pig MRSA.”

Naturally, the American Meat Institute–the lobbying group, not the gay bar–maintains their position that “informed scientists and public health professionals acknowledge that the problem of antibiotic resistance in humans is overwhelmingly an issue related to human antibiotic use.”

Wouldn’t you think, AMI, that if overuse of antibiotics in humans is problematic, that overuse of antibiotics in livestock would also be problematic?

Oh, wait, I forgot about the simple fact that cash trumps logic. Now pass me those pork rinds.

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