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New Study Links Animal Agriculture to More Than 20% of MRSA Infections in the Netherlands
Date:12/3/2007

U.S. Still Has No System to Monitor MRSA in Animal Production; Congress Needs to Compel Government Action

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new study published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emerging Infectious Diseases links a new strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), once found only in pigs, to more than 20 percent of all human MRSA infections in the Netherlands (the study can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/eid/content/13/12/1834.htm).

The new strain of MRSA, NT-MRSA, emerged in the Netherlands in 2003 and increased steadily until by 2006 it accounted for more than one out of every five human MRSA infections, many of them in either pig farmers or cattle farmers. The NT-MRSA cases clustered in regions of the country with high densities of pig and cattle farms. The new strain has high rates of hospitalization, suggesting that it causes severe disease.

Research published this fall in Veterinary Microbiology found MRSA was also prevalent in Canadian pigs and pig farmers, pointing again to animal agriculture as a source of the deadly bacteria.

Despite these studies and others from Europe dating back to 2005, the United States does not systematically test pigs, cattle, and other food animals for MRSA. As a result, the US public health establishment does not know whether the use of antibiotics in food animals in the United States is contributing to the reported surge of MRSA cases in the United States.

A study published earlier in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) estimated almost 100,000 MRSA infections in the United States in 2005, nearly 19,000 of them fatal. In comparison, HIV/AIDS killed 17,000 people that year.

Members of the Keep Antibiotics Working coalition (KAW), including medical, agriculture, and environmental experts, are repeating their call
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SOURCE Keep Antibiotics Working Coalition
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