-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, July 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new study has raised
more concerns about the widespread use of antibiotics in U.S.
Researchers swabbed the noses of workers at two types of
livestock farms in North Carolina. They found antibiotic-resistant
bacteria associated with livestock in workers at industrial farms
where animals are kept in confinement and given antibiotics to
promote their growth.
The noses of workers who handle antibiotic-free livestock set
out in pastures did not contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria,
according to the study, which was published July 2 in the journal
The research team was looking for antibiotic-resistant
Staphylococcus aureusbacteria, including the tough-to-treat
S. aureus, known as MRSA.
"This study shows that these livestock-associated strains are present among workers at industrial livestock operations, and that these strains are resistant not just to methicillin, but to multiple antibiotics -- including antibiotics that are used to treat human infections," study corresponding author Christopher Heaney, an assistant professor of environmental health sciences and epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore, said in a school news release.
S. aureuscan cause a range of illnesses in people, from
minor to life-threatening skin, bloodstream, respiratory, urinary
and surgical-site infections. Like most illnesses caused by
S. aureusinfections are treated with antibiotics, but
drug-resistant strains can be especially difficult to treat.
Multidrug-resistant strains of
S. aureusbacteria were about twice as common among
industrial livestock operation workers as among antibiotic-free
livestock farm workers. And
S. aureusstrains that were resistant to tetracycline -- an
antibiotic used in industrial livestock production since the 1950s
-- were 19 times more common among industrial livestock operation
workers than among those at antibiotic-free livestock farms.
The workers weren't showing signs of infection at the time of
Although the study showed an association between exposure to
animals given antibiotics and development of drug-resistant
bacteria, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about
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