Antibiotic-Resistant MRSA in Livestock May Spread to Humans

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While bacteria like MRSA in meat is killed once it is cooked at high heat, experts said farm workers and other handlers of the livestock are most at risk of contracting the infection.

"It's pretty unlikely that someone would get MRSA after cooking the meat, but if you don't wash your hands thoroughly after handling the raw meat, there's potential to acquire MRSA," said Dr. William Schaffner, chief of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Schaffner said he believes there is little likelihood of contracting MRSA from eating meat, but the concern of antibiotic resistance in humans is of great concern, as nationwide sales of antibiotics for humans and animals continues to grow.

Experts said the excessive use of antibiotics in the United States to treat a wide variety of illnesses, including viruses (which do not respond to antibiotics) and the overuse of antibiotics in food products may cause continuing resistance to antibiotics.

"These findings are a result of inaction to do something to control antibiotic use in the food animals," Zervos said.

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