Pig farm workers are six times as likely to carry multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus as workers who have no contact with pigs.
In one of the largest studies of staph in livestock workers, researchers found that contact with farm animals, particularly pigs, generally left workers more likely to carry the infectious bacteria, including drug-resistant varieties such as MRSA. Researchers monitored 1,342 people from Iowa and the staph they carried for up to 17 months.
The authors caution that their findings, published April 29 in Clinical Infectious Diseases, may underestimate the health risks. Researchers found that a worker’s chance of carrying staph increased with the number of pigs contacted. The farms in the study housed an average of 355 pigs, while the statewide average is about 2,300.