MRSA : Farming up trouble : Nature News & Comment
Microbiologists are trying to work out whether use of antibiotics on farms is fuelling the human epidemic of drug-resistant bacteria.
But the meat and agricultural industries are fighting those restrictions. They claim that #MRSA and other drug-resistant bacteria that cause human infections arise in hospitals, and that meat production includes safety measures, such as sanitation rules in slaughterhouses, that prevent resistant bacteria from spreading to and infecting people. “There’s a long way between the farm and the table,” says Ron Phillips, a representative for the Animal Health Institute, a trade organization based in Washington DC that represents veterinary-medicine companies.
The major problem has been lack of data. Many farmers are reluctant to allow scientists access to their facilities, and farmworkers — many of whom, in the United States, are undocumented immigrants — are wary of anyone who might want to sample them.
But [Tara] Smith, [an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, who has since launched one of the most comprehensive investigations yet of where MRSA lives and how it spreads into and out of agricultural settings] and a small group of researchers are starting to fill the void.