“The Pig Superbug and the Baby”
In the United Kingdom, MRSA was discovered in the umbilical cords of newborn babies.
Watch The Guardian’s investigative report on antibiotic-resistant bacteria
and factory farms.
Download JFAN's Antibiotic Resistant Ad
When will the corporate livestock industry and our government put scientific evidence, common sense, and public health above greed and corporate profits? When will they step up and become part of the solution?
From the CDC Report: Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013
"Simply using antibiotics creates resistance. These drugs should only be used to treat infections."
“Resistant bacteria in food-producing animals are of particular concern because these animals serve as carriers.”
“Because of the link between antibiotic use in food-producing animals and the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant infections in humans, antibiotics should be used in food-producing animals only under veterinary oversight and only to manage and treat infectious diseases, not to promote growth.”
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a staph infection that is resistant to several antibiotics. It’s the most common superbug, and has been responsible for 80,000 cases and 11,285 deaths in recent years.
MRSA is categorized as either “Community acquired” or “hospital or health-care acquired.” As its name implies, community-acquired MRSA occurs in communities and is not linked to MRSA arising in medical facilities. Community acquired MRSA is the type of MRSA linked to CAFOs.
Community acquired MRSA generally starts as a contagious skin infection. MRSA can be spread person to person or if one handles an object touched by an infected person. Healthy skin tissue does not contract MRSA, but the bacteria can enter the body through cuts, abrasions, or other skin flaws.
If not treated or if treatment is not successful, MRSA can develop complications and affect internal organs where it can become life threatening. People with chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, are more susceptible, but anyone can contract MRSA, even healthy individuals.
It’s crucial that skin infections are cultured in order to determine the strain of MRSA and the appropriate antibiotic. It’s not unusual for a MRSA patient to need several rounds of antibiotics in order to eradicate the infection and MRSA infections cannot be eradicated.
To learn more about MRSA, visit Medicinenet.com
Scientific Research Indicates:
CAFOs Are A Public Health Threat
Antibiotics - the miracle drug responsible for saving countless lives since the 1940's - are in serious jeopardy.
CAFOs Can Create Superbugs
Their overuse and misuse in the medical and agricultural industries are creating “superbugs”, antibiotic-resistance bacteria that world health leaders say “pose a catastrophic threat” to human health across the globe.1
Superbugs kill 23,000 people each year, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and CDC Director Thomas Friedman deems these figures “minimal estimates.”1 A 2014 study commissioned by UK Prime Minister David Cameron found that unless the problem was reined in, antibiotic-resistant bacteria could kill up to 10 million people a year by 2050, overtaking cancer deaths.2
Industrial livestock production is a significant contributor to the development of antibiotic-resistance bacteria. 70-80% of all antibiotics in the United States is used in industrial livestock production.3
The CDC, American Medical Association, World Health Organization, and many other health and environmental groups call for a drastic reduction in antibiotics usage in industrial livestock production in order to protect the effectiveness of these important drugs.
Antibiotic Resistance Is an Urgent Problem for People NOW
Confined animals are fed low doses of antibiotics for two reasons: to speed animal growth and to prevent disease from spreading. As we see from the recent Avian Flu epidemic, the CAFO environment allows for disease to travel swiftly when animals are closely confined.
The following sobering facts reveal the connection between antibiotic use, industrial livestock production, and the development of superbugs as documented in numerous peer reviewed studies:
A University of Iowa study discovered the presence of the same strain of community acquired MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) in swine and swine workers, linking the transmission between humans and animals. The same strain of MRSA was colonized in 70% of the swine and 64% of the workers. This study confirms the findings of Canadian and Dutch studies. Carrying MRSA doesn’t mean one will contract it, but it increases one’s chances of being afflicted and of infecting others.4
Nearly half of CAFO workers may carry MRSA in their bodies for up to four days after exposure, according to a preliminary Johns Hopkins study. This refutes the belief that the bacterium clears from workers within 24 hours. Researchers say the longer the bacteria is carried by workers, the greater the opportunity to potentially spread MRSA to family members and into the community.5
A major 2013 CDC report found antibiotics are losing effectiveness against 18 strains of bacteria. They found MRSA infections to be the highest of all antibiotic-resistant threats with 80,000 cases per year resulting in 11,285 deaths annually.1
Neighbors living within one mile of a large CAFO (2500 or more hogs) were 2.73 times more likely to colonize MRSA.6
A Johns Hopkins study attributed 11% of participants afflicted with MRSA and soft tissue infections to living or working near fields receiving hog manure from a CAFO.7
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Are Spreading Beyond CAFOs. Anyone Can Get MRSA
Wind blows dust containing tiny particles of antibiotics, fecal bacteria and antibiotic-resistance gene sequences several miles from factory farms, according to a Texas Tech study published in 2015.8
Flies and roaches that live on factory farms were found to carry bacteria resistant to tetracycline, streptomycin and also combinations of antibiotics. These common pests have the potential to spread antibiotic-resistance bacteria originating on factory farms.9
Consumer Reports found 69% of sampled raw pork contained bacteria resistant to one or more antibiotics.10 The Environmental Working Group found 81% of ground turkey, 69% of pork chops, 55% of ground beef, and 39% of chicken contaminated with antibiotic-resistance enterococcus.11
Infants in general and African-American children are experiencing a higher incidence of community-acquired MRSA, according to a five-year study that examined 4.4 million children. The number of new cases grew by 10% in that control period. 12
“Aggressive action is needed now to keep new resistance from developing and to prevent the resistance that already exists from spreading.“ – CDC Report Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013
Public health must come first.
With the danger of losing the use of antibiotics, it’s JFAN’s position that antibiotic use in factory farmed animals must be sharply curtailed:
Antibiotics should be administered only in cases where animals need immediate treatment for infectious diseases.
Antibiotics should not be used routinely for disease prevention or for growth promotion
The industrial confinement model must be phased out so that prophylactic and economic uses are no longer necessary or acceptable
Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, 2013. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Antimicrobial Resistance: Tackling a Crisis for the Health and Wealth of Nations.Review of Antimicrobial Resistance, United Kingdom, 2014.
Hogging It! Estimates of Antimicrobial Abuse in Livestock. Union of Concerned Scientists, 2001.
"Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Strain ST398 In Present in Midwestern US Swine and Swine Workers." University of Iowa. PLOS One, 2009
“Persistence of Livestock-associated Antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Among Industrial Hog Workers in North Carolina Over 14 Days.” Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 2014.
"Residential Proximity to Large Number of Swine in Feeding Operations Is Associated with Increased Risk of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Colonization at Time of Hospital Admission in Rural Iowa Veterans." University of Iowa, Iowa City Veterans Affairs, and Kent State University, Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, February 2014.
"National Burden of Invasive Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Infections, United States. 2011." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta Research and Education Foundation, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, University of Rochester, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Minnesota Department of Health, California Emerging Infections Program, Connecticut Department of Public Health, Emory University of Medicine, Georgia Emerging Infections Program, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science, University. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2013.
“Antibiotics, Bacteria, and Antibiotic Resistance Genes: Aerial Transport from Cattle Feed Yards via Particulate Matter.” Texas Tech University and the Research Testing Laboratory. Environmental Health Perspectives. January 2015.
“Insects in Confined Swine Operations Carry a Large Antibiotic Resistant and Potentially Virulent Enterococcal Community.” North Carolina State University and Kansas State University. BMC Microbiology, 2010.
“Pork Chops and Ground Pork Contaminated with Bacteria.” Consumer Reports, 2013.
“Superbugs Invade American Supermarkets.” Environmental Working Group, 2013.
“Trends in Invasive Methicillin-Resistant Infections.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Minnesota, Colorado and Connecticut Departments of Health; California, Georgia, and Maryland Emerging Infections Programs; Emory University School of Medicine; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; University of Rochester; Oregon Health and Science University; Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Pediatrics. September 23, 2014.