Study links living near livestock to drug-resistant infections

People living near farms at higher risk for exposure to MRSA

People living near a livestock farm could be at higher risk for developing an antibiotic-resistant infection, a new study led by researchers at the Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests.

Using data from the Netherlands, a team of Johns Hopkins and Dutch scientists determined that the odds of exposure to Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, or MRSA, were considerably higher in a the Southeast region of the country, a major livestock production area. The elevated risk was not limited to farmers, but also applied to people living near herds of cattle, pigs, or sheep. The study is the first to suggest the importance of indirect routes of transmission of livestock-associated MRSA, according to researchers.

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The study focused only on livestock-associated MRSA in the Netherlands, but lead author Beth Feingold, a postdoctoral fellow at Hopkins, said, "I think it would be important to do a study here in the United States, where we do have intensive livestock farming as well." Hopkins faculty members Ellen Silbergeld and Frank Curriero were co-authors.

Livestock-associated MRSA has been detected in the United States already, she noted, but there isn't the same type of surveillance conducted in this country as in the Netherlands

"I think there's a possibility that we could see something similar here," she said.

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