Mar 12, 2009 | 2
Evidently, pork isn’t just a problem when it shows up in stimulus package bills or because pigs smell. It may also land you in the hospital.
That’s the message of a Nicholas Kristof column in today’s New York Times about the dawning realization that pigs around the world often harbor antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria. The original “superbug,” these bacteria can cause painful, red welts in infected people, and infections kill over 18,000 Americans annually – more than AIDS, according to 2005 estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As Kristof notes, ScientificAmerican.com reported in January on this so-called MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) first turning up in samples of U.S. swine, according to a study published in PLoS ONE. Evidence that commercially raised pigs – usually pumped full of disease-fighting antibiotics to grow good and fat for their bacon and holiday hams – are breeding tough bacteria originally cropped up on a farm in the Netherlands in 2004. There, the pig-borne versions of the bacteria account for nearly a third of all MRSA infections.
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