There are two new studies out that confirm, once again, that drug-resistant staph or MRSA — normally thought of as a problem in hospitals and out in everyday life, in schoolkids, sports teams, jails and gyms — is showing up in animals and in the meat those animals become.
The strain of staph that shows up in farm animals, known as “livestock-associated” MRSA or MRSA ST398, first emerged in pigs in the Netherlands, and has been widely identified in retail meat in Europe. (You can find a long archive of posts on ST398 here, and more here.) But that same strain has been difficult to identify in the United States. That may be due in part to the U.S. having a uniquely massive epidemic of community-associated MRSA, far larger than in any other country, which likely both obscures any animal epidemic from detection, and possibly also fills the ecological niche that livestock-associated staph might otherwise occupy. But, it must be said, there’s also remarkably little political will to look for livestock-associated MRSA (though the U.S. Department of Agriculture has now funded a study).