Drug Resistant Staph Found in U.S. Meat, Poultry

We have long written about the issue of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/defective_drugs">antibiotic overuse and misuse, long warning about the potential global ramifications connected to these problems. Drug resistance—specifically antibiotic resistance—has become more than just worrisome. This trend dangerous, deadly, and here.

Now, says Science Daily, very high rates of drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus have been found in meat and poultry in United States grocery stores, citing a nationwide study conducted by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). S. aureus had been linked with a broad number of diseases in humans.

Almost half, about 47 percent, of the meat and poultry samples, were contaminated with S. aureus; 52 percent of those bacteria were resistant to no less than three classes of antibiotics, said the study published April 15 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. This study, said Science Daily, is the first national assessment of antibiotic resistant S. aureus in America’s food supply. DNA testing also pointed to the primary source of this contamination originating with food animals, noted Science Daily.

Staph is typically killed off when foods are cooked properly; however, cross-contamination in the kitchen could pass the deadly germ, said Science Daily.

The team looked at 136 samples—80 brands—of beef, chicken, turkey, and pork from 26 grocery stores Los Angeles, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Flagstaff, and Washington, D.C. “For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and it is substantial,” said Lance B. Price, Ph.D., senior author of the study and Director of TGen’s Center for Food Microbiology and Environmental Health, quoted Science Daily.

“The fact that drug-resistant S. aureus was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today,” Dr. Price, added. Industrial farms that feed “densely” packed food animals low antibiotic doses are perfect environments for drug-resistant bacteria to colonize and pass to humans, the study said, wrote Science Daily. “Antibiotics are the most important drugs that we have to treat Staph infections; but when Staph are resistant to three, four, five or even nine different antibiotics—like we saw in this study–that leaves physicians few options,” Dr. Price added, quoted Science Daily.

“The emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria—including Staph—remains a major challenge in clinical medicine,” said Paul S. Keim, Ph.D., Director of TGen’s Pathogen Genomics Division and Director of the Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics at Northern Arizona University (NAU). “This study shows that much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with multidrug-resistant Staph. Now we need to determine what this means in terms of risk to the consumer,” Dr. Keim, paper co-author, said, quoted Science Daily. The U.S. government surveys meat and poultry for four drug-resistant bacteria; however, S. aureus is among the pathogens tested.

Reuters recently wrote that misuse of these vital and potent medications are mitigating the worldwide war against infections diseases, citing tuberculosis and malaria, and rendering existing antibiotics useless, according to a warning issued by the World Health Organization (WHO). Antibiotic overuse and misuse cause bacteria mutate, changing just enough to ensure drugs have no effect on them and allowing them a wide berth to spread with increasing power.

Although tempting, preventative antibiotic regimes only worsen the epidemic, strengthening the bacteria. New drugs are not immune because, as new drugs surface, it’s a matter of time before super bugs become resistant to them, too. Tuberculosis, which should have been obliterated years ago; malaria, which is now strain resistant; gonorrhea, which is experiencing growing strain resistance; and hospital-acquired superbugs are all increasing in ferocity, said WHO.

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