Maryn McKenna, author of Superbug and Beating Back the Devil, released a post on regarding a recent study linking MRSA infection transmission between animals and humans. The study compares two farmers (with farm animals) who tested positive for MRSA – and farm animals that also tested positive for MRSA. The study concludes that animal-to-human transmission must occur and the drive to eliminate antibiotic usage in farms and ranches must transpire. 

USFRA believes farmers and ranchers use antibiotics judiciously to keep the potential risk extremely low of developing antibiotic resistant bacteria that is harmful to people.  They work closely with veterinarians and under the guidelines of the FDA to maintain the best interests of public health and safety as well as animal welfare. 

The article highlights a study featuring Danish farmers where both humans and animals tested positive for MRSA infections, thus concluding that gene sequencing pinpoints antibiotic resistance movement from livestock to humans.

The problem with the article is that it doesn’t point out that there has been no proven link to antibiotic treatment failure in humans due to antibiotic use in animals for consumption in the US.  Media coverage such as this doesn’t tell the whole story and implies that farming practices are making people sick, thus needlessly scaring the public. 

Dr. Scott Hurd, who served as Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, called the study “…irresponsible science to make conclusions that one came from another in the absence of some other information.”

He continues by saying, “we could just as easily argue that people gave the genome to the animal strains of MRSA. Or better BOTH got it from a common bacterial source. Note, we do all live the same environmental, bacterial ecosystem… For some reason our friends in Denmark have a strong desire to ’eradicate’ their livestock production, and then export those costly practices to the rest of us.”

The editor of this article takes this small and inconclusive study to scare consumers into taking actions that may create more of a detrimental impact than positive impact. Eliminating a tool, like antibiotics, in farm animals may only increase illness. Additionally, food safety starts with healthy animals.

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