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Pigs, farmers, and MRSA

(article, Caroline Cummins)

You've probably heard, over the past couple of years, about outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant staph infections in hospitals around the U.S. One of the causes of the problem — a bacteria named methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, for short — is the fact that factory farms routinely dose their animals with antibiotics to keep them from falling ill in dirty, confined conditions. The overuse of antibiotics to prevent disease instead of to treat it has encouraged the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. We eat those antibiotic-laden animals, and become drug-resistant ourselves. And then we get sick, and the drugs don't make us better.

Now comes word that MRSA has been detected on factory farms themselves — in particular, on pig farms in the Midwest. Eat pork from these farms, in other words, and not only are you eating antibiotics, but you may be eating lethal bacteria as well. And as reported by the intrepid Andrew Schneider at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the word was out about this problem last summer — but nothing was done about it.