New research has confirmed what many have long argued—prevalent antibiotic use in livestock is leading to an increase in drug-resistant infections. A study published in the American Society for Microbiology journal mBio demonstrates that Staphylococcus aureus infections—known colloquially as “staph”—can jump back and forth between humans and livestock, developing resistance to antibiotics when transmitted to pigs and then reinfecting humans. Researchers from the Translational Genomics Research Institute performed genome analysis on a staph strain in 19 different countries in order to reach the disturbing conclusion, with the drug-resistant strain detected in almost half of all meat in the US consumer system. The study refutes the claim that rampant use of antibiotics in livestock feed will not negatively impact human populations, which livestock groups have argued for decades.
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