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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Poultry Workers and Pig Farmers May Spread Bacteria Too

Well, the stocking are hung and the presents are all wrapped, and I am surfing the net to see what there is to blog about (my version of the “Night Before Christmas”) when I found this quote:

“Nine billion food animals are produced and slaughtered in the United States annually, and all of those animals are defecating and shedding bacteria, including drug-resistant bacteria…. We are running out of antibiotics to treat human infections.” Lance Price

Antibiotic-resistant bugs have been in the news recently. Some, like Salmonella Newport, have caused illness in consumers of Safeway ground beef.  Newsday recently reported – "Poultry Workers may spread E. coli" – No, not E. coli O157:H7, but gentamicin-resistant E. coli.

Public health investigators at Johns Hopkins University estimate that workers in poultry factories in the United States are 32 times more likely to be colonized with E. coli that repels the antibiotic gentamicin than other people. The drug is used to treat both poultry and humans.

Recently, in a new study, “MRSA prevalent in Canadian pig farms and pig farmers,” published in Veterinary Microbiology found methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) prevalent in Canadian pig farms and pig farmers, pointing to animal agriculture as a source of the deadly bacteria.

The US Government seems concerned enough to at least study the problem of antibiotic resistant bugs in our food supply.  It created the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) in 1996 as a collaborative effort between the United States Department of AgricultureFood and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The NARMS program monitors changes in antimicrobial drug susceptibilities of selected enteric bacterial organisms in humans, animals, and retail meats to a panel of antimicrobial drugs important in human and animal medicine.  Animal and human isolates currently monitored in NARMS include Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria and Shigella.  Some selected articles on antibiotic resistance:

Antibiotic Resistance in Listeria, Antibiotic Resistance in Shigella, Antibiotic Resistance in Escherichia coli, Antibiotic Resistance in Campylobacter, Antibiotic resistance in Salmonella

Well, looks like it will be a far too busy and profitable New Year.