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In 2005, the first report on MRSA in pigs came from The Netherlands. A relation was found between MRSA positive persons and living on a pig farm or working with pigs. Studies on pig farms and in pig slaughterhouses revealed high percentages of MRSA positive pigs. Studies on veal farms also found high percentages of MRSA positive veal calves. In a pilot study on broiler slaughterhouses MRSA positive broilers were found as well.

What about eating meat?

It has been shown that LA-MRSA is present in very small amounts on fresh meat, but the human health hazard of meat consumption is negligible.

Are farmers at risk?

People who are (professionally) in close contact with pigs or veal calves are often MRSA positive, without any clinical signs. When these people are hospitalized for e.g. surgery, or in contact with seriously ill people, MRSA infections might occur. When infections, occur it is wise to mention that there is a chance that MRSA is the cause of the infection. The physician might want to start treatment with another drug than usual.

Is livestock-associated MRSA distinct from ‘classical human strains’?

In the lab a distinction can be made between the MRSA strain found in livestock and the ‘classical human strains’. Livestock-associated MRSA (LA-MRSA) seems to be less transmissible between humans and causes less severe infections.

Are visitors from a children’s farm at risk?

The risk on getting MRSA from animals increases with the intensiveness and length of the contact between humans and animals. On a children’s farm there is no long-lasting and intensive contact with livestock, so the human health hazard is negligible. In general, it is wise to wash your hands with water and soap after visiting a children’s farm.

 

 

BMF expresses thanks to the author
Els M. Broens / DVM Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology / Wageningen University Centre for Infectious Disease Control Netherlands / National Institute for Public Health and the Environment

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