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Living near hog waste linked to drug-resistant infections

Medical Research

Living by a hog farm or near crop fields fertilized with the animals' manure can raise your risk of getting a drug-resistant infection, a new study finds.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found a link in Pennsylvania between intensive hog farming and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

In poring over medical records of more than 446,000 Pennsylvanians in the Geisinger Health System, the researchers found 3,000 patients with MRSA and 50,000 with skin and soft-tissue infections from 2005 through 2010.  Of the MRSA cases, 1,539 were community-acquired and 1,335 deemed hospital-acquired.

Overall, researchers concluded that 11 percent of the MRSA and soft-tissue infections could be attributed to living near farm fields treated with pig manure. They found a similar, but weaker link to living near the actual hog herds.

The results were published online Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. 

A study published last year found a link to MRSA in the Netherlands from living near a livestock farm, including cattle, but this is the first in this country. This new study saw no MRSA link to dairy farms, however.

"The results require replication, but we believe we have provided additional strong evidence that these livestock practices have important public health consequences,” according to Joan A. Casey, the study's lead author and an environmental health sciences doctoral student at Hopkins.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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