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Hog Workers More Likely to Carry Staphylococcus aureus Bacteria

NOV 25, 2016 | EINAV KEET
From the nasal swabs collected, the team found that 44% of the workers and 39% of the members of their households carried S. aureus bacteria in their noses. In addition, 6% of the workers and 11% of the children in their households had experience recent SSTI. Those workers carrying S. aureus in their noses were five times more likely to have had a recent SSTI than those who were not carriers of the bacteria.
Along with these findings, the researchers analyzed the S. aureus isolates for antibiotic susceptibility and found MRSA in only one worker and MDRSA in the 21 workers and eight of their household members. "Before this study, we knew that many hog workers were carrying livestock-associated and multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains in their noses, but we didn't know what that meant in terms of worker health," said study leader Johns Hopkins University assistant professor Christopher D. Heaney, PhD, in a recent press release about the investigation. "It wasn't clear whether hog workers carrying these bacteria might be at increased risk of infection. This study suggests that carrying these bacteria may not always be harmless to humans."
While the study had limitations, such as its relatively small size and the potential for missed S. aureus carriers from the lack of swabs taken from other body sites, the authors note that livestock workers have an occupational risk for staph infections and may be particularly vulnerable due to lacking access to healthcare. The authors call for additional research to better understand the risk faced by hog operation workers.
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