MRSA More Likely For People Living Near Mega-Farms, Study Says

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Levels of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus among inpatient carriers are highest in those who live near concentrated animal-feeding operations with more than 2,500 pigs, according to research published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

Proximity to large numbers of pigs, which carry a form of MRSA to which humans are susceptible, may increase risk of MRSA colonization, but how exactly this occurs is uncertain, according to a report on the study in Wired. The mechanism may be key, considering animal production's contribution to antibiotic resistance, acknowledged by the FDA in late 2013 with the issuance of new restrictions for antibiotics in livestock operations.

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MRSA often colonizes individuals before it causes infection, so being colonized with MRSA increases the risk of contracting the infection at a later time, according to the report. MRSA screenings are part of some hospitals' admission data for patients, as patients who carry MRSA may pose infection risks to other patients in the facility.

According to the Wired report, the study's findings further complicate the relationship between farm use of antibiotics and infection control.

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