Antibiotic-resistant bacteria transmitted to consumers via supermarket poultry

Photo credit: Bour3 Photo credit: Bour3

A new study published in the scientific journal Clinical Infectious Diseases has found evidence that antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus can be transmitted to consumers via grocery store poultry meat. While livestock workers and veterinarians who work regularly with living farm animals are known to be at high risk for contracting bacteria from animals, human infection with livestock-associated bacteria in the general public are growing as well.  This study’s authors observed that that in Denmark, infections were occurring in people who did not live near livestock, raising questions about possible sources and modes of transmission. To address these questions, researchers analyzed the DNA of bacteria collected from 10 humans who did not have contact with livestock, animals and retail foods from across Europe to determine the origins of the human infections. While the bacterial strain found in the 10 humans did not match any other samples found in Denmark livestock, the researchers were able to trace it back to retail poultry products imported from other European countries. Robert Skov, a lead researcher on the paper, said in a statement, "At present, meat products represent only a minor transmission route for MRSA to humans, but our findings nevertheless underscore the importance of reducing the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals as well as continuing surveillance of the animal-food-human interface."