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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

GW Study Finds Superbug MRSA May Be Spreading Through Contaminated Poultry

A new study by an international team of researchers, headed by Dr. Robert Skov at Statens Serum Institut and Dr. Lance Price at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University (GW), offers compelling evidence that a form of the dangerous superbug MRSA can spread to humans through consumption or handling of contaminated poultry.

[Photo: Staph bacteria, mustard colored]

The study focuses on a special newly identified strain of MRSA associated with poultry. MRSA is often found in chickens, pigs and other food animals. While researchers know that those who work directly with livestock are at risk of MRSA infections, this study shows that people with no exposure to livestock are becoming colonized and infected with this new strain of poultry-associated MRSA — most likely by eating or handling contaminated poultry meat.

The researchers reviewed the national database at Statens Serum Institut and found ten people living in urban areas of Denmark that had been colonized or hospitalized with MRSA. Drs. Skov, Price and their colleagues then used a type of sophisticated genetic analysis to study the MRSA from those cases and compare it to strains found in people, livestock and food products from other European countries.

Read more about the findings from the study, “Evidence for human adaptation and Foodborne Transmission of Livestock-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus,” which was published online September 21 in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.