MRSA ST398: Now It’s in Chickens

The emerging MRSA strain ST398 has found a new home–chickens.

MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) was first found to have swept through European swine herds from 2003-2006. Then it entered the hospital system.
In the U.S., it had not been observed in agriculture until very recently (it’s ScienceBlogling Tara’s fault–on a serious note, she studies this critter). It hasn’t been seen in hospitals in the U.S. yet.
What’s disturbing is that a recent study from Belgium indicates that MRSA is on the rise in chickens and that it’s due to ST398 (this isn’t a trivial thing; most countries have more chickens than people).
So we now know that ST398 can successfully live in poultry. I had hoped that, in the U.S., we could contain this strain, but now, I’m not so optimistic.
Cited article: Nemati et al. 2008. Antimicrobial resistance of old and recent Staphylococcus aureus isolates from poultry: first detection of livestock-associated methicillin-resistant strain ST398. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 52: 3817-9.

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