Constant readers, I know that many of you are very interested in ST 398, the “pig strain” of MSRA that has caused both mild and life-threatening human infections in Europe and has been found in retail meat in Canada and on farms and in farmers here in the Midwest. So I just want to bring to your attention that New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof takes up the topic today, in the first of two promised columns: Our Pigs, Our Food, Our Health.
In today’s piece, he describes an apparent epidemic of skin and soft-tissue infections in a pig-farming area of Indiana that caught the attention of a local family physician, who subsequently died.
What we’d need to know, of course — and may never know, given that the investigation may have ended with the doctor’s death — is what strain of MRSA those local folks had. They may have ST 398, picked up if they worked on farms, or if it migrated out of the farms via groundwater or dust or flies. Or they may have USA300, the human community-associated strain, which in some areas is astonishingly common — a fact that most people don’t appreciate if they have heard only about the invasive child-death cases or the outbreaks in sports teams.