Claims that food animals are increasingly the source of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, bacteria in humans are greatly exaggerated. That's the message recently sent by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to members of the House Ag Commitee.
If transmission of MRSA from food animals to people occurs, "it likely accounts for very small proportion of human infections in the United States." That's backed up by the Dutch food-safety authority and the Netherlands' National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.
According to the CDC, 80% of life-threatening MRSA infections appear to be the result of person-to-person transmission in inpatient health-care facilities.
Groups studying large-scale animal agriculture have attempted to link the use of antibiotics in livestock and poultry with the recent rise in MRSA-related illnesses. They are urging Congress to pass legislation prohibiting the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics in animal feed despite a recent Institute of Food Technologists report that stated that correlating the risk of antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic resistance in humans isn't possible.
Source: American Agriculturist, April 2008