Nicholas Kristof has an interesting op-ed in the NY Times about the relationship between pig farming and MRSA. I’ll be curious to see what he writes about in his next column, since he says, “This is a system that may help breed virulent “superbugs” that pose a public health threat to us all. That’ll be the focus of my next column, on Sunday.”
I feel somewhat vindicated since this is a drum I’ve been beating for a long time; I’ve also been involved in efforts to curb the use of the antibiotic cefquinome in agriculture.
The other good thing is that ScienceBlogling Tara, who has published on the ‘piggy strain’ of MRSA (ST398) is referred to in the op-ed:
Since then, that strain of MRSA has spread rapidly through the Netherlands — especially in swine-producing areas. A small Dutch study found pig farmers there were 760 times more likely than the general population to carry MRSA (without necessarily showing symptoms), and Scientific American reports that this strain of MRSA has turned up in 12 percent of Dutch retail pork samples.
Now this same strain of MRSA has also been found in the United States. A new study by Tara Smith, a University of Iowa epidemiologist, found that 45 percent of pig farmers she sampled carried MRSA, as did 49 percent of the hogs tested.
The follow-up column is Sunday. Hopefully, Kristof will get the biology right….