23 January 2009

Appearing tonight at SciAm.com

Folks, last summer I told you about the very exciting though disturbing development of ST 398 MRSA — the "untypable" Dutch strain that originated in pigs and spread to humans — being found in pigs in the US for the first time.

But here's the brand-new second half of that story: It was found in pig handlers as well, on a set of linked farms — a closed production system that takes pigs from birth to just before slaughter — in Iowa and Illinois.

The full study has just been published, in the online Public Library of Science journal PLoS One.

And I have a story describing the research and the background — and the alarming spread of ST 398 in Europe — up tonight at ScientificAmerican.com.

The cite is: Smith, TC, Male, MJ, Harper, AL et al. Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Strain ST398 Is Present in Midwestern U.S. Swine and Swine Workers. PLoS ONE 4(1): e4258 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004258

UPDATE: Lead author Tara Smith talks about the paper at her own blog, Aetiology. And for good measure, her Science Blogs sibling (AKA "scibling") Ed Yong discusses the paper at Not Exactly Rocket Science.


Anonymous said...

This is really interesting as I am involved with Iowa Rivers Revival, an educational group advocating for clean rivers. I see a lot of manure applied to frozen soils and snow covered soils, could this pathogen be in the manure, survive the winter and potentially end up in the river.

Jerry Peckumn
Jefferson, Iowa

Maryn McKenna said...

Jerry, there are several good pieces of research on manure-spreading causing drug-resistant bugs from CAFOs to leak into groundwater (try S. Koike, APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, Aug. 2007, p. 4813–4823). I don't know though whether freezing would change those results.