New Study Found MRSA in Swine and Swine Workers

January 26, 2009
Julia Ernst, MS

Researchers at the University of Iowa have published the first study to document methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in swine and swine workers.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have published the first study to document methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in swine and swine workers, according to an article on the PLoS ONE website.

Nearly 300 swine were examined, along with 20 workers, from two different locations in Iowa and Illinois, “comprising approximately 87,000 live animals,” according to the online journal article. MRSA was present in nearly half of all swine and in 45 percent of workers at one location, but was not seen in workers or swine from the second farm.

According to the researchers, recent studies from the Netherlands and Canada have shown swine and swine farmers to have MRSA, but no studies have been done in the US to investigate the prevalence of this pathogen. They also stated that this study was the first to report the presence of ST398, non-typeable MRSA, in the US.

The workers who were found to have MRSA all worked with breeding swine. Those who did not gather blood or other specimens from the animals were at a higher risk for carrying MRSA than those who did not work with specimens.

The isolates taken from both the workers and the animals were resistant to penicillin, oxacillin, and tetracycline and were susceptible to rimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, gentamicin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, linezolid, daptomycin, vancomycin, and rifampin.

The researchers discussed a number of factors that were not associated with nasal carriage of MRSA, including health and employment history. In addition, age, gender, and use of tobacco products were not found to impact the chance of contracting MRSA.

The presence of MRSA at this Midwestern US farm suggests that animals used in agriculture may serve as a good environment for the bacterium.

For more information, click here.