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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Study Identifies Antibiotic-resistant Bacteria among Beef-packing Workers

Workers in the U.S. cattle industry may be exposed to antibiotic-resistant bacteria from livestock, a finding that has broad implications for occupational health, according to a new study led by a Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researcher.

In the journal PLOS ONE a research team led by Dr. Jessica Leibler, assistant professor of environmental health at BUSPH, found that 3.5 percent of a sample group of beef slaughterhouse workers in the U.S. were exposed to antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with genetic markers of livestock adaptation.

While human exposure to pigs and poultry has been associated with livestock-associated S. aureus in workers, this study was the first to document human exposure in the context of beef workers in the U.S.

Dr. Leibler said the study implies a potential role of the beef-production chain in the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to humans, noting that, “while workers are at the front lines, our findings imply risk to workers’ families, communities, and consumers of beef products.”

To read more about the study, go to: