Antibiotic-Resistant Strains of Staph Bacteria May Be Spreading Between Pigs Raised in Factory Farms and People in North Carolina

  09 March 2021

DNA sequencing of bacteria found in pigs and humans in rural eastern North Carolina, an area with concentrated industrial-scale pig-farming, suggests that multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains are spreading between pigs, farmworkers, their families and community residents, and represents an emerging public health threat, according to a study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

S. aureus is commonly found in soil and water, as well as on the skin and in the upper respiratory tract in pigs, other animals, and people. It can cause medical problems from minor skin infections to serious surgical wound infections, pneumonia, and the often-lethal blood-infection condition known as sepsis. The findings provide evidence that multidrug-resistant S. aureus strains are capable of spreading and possibly causing illness in and around factory farm communities in the U.S.—a scenario the authors say researchers should continue to investigate.

The study was published online February 22 in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Author(s): John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
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