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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

GW Study Suggests Retail Meat is Potential Vehicle for Disease-Causing Bacteria Klebsiella

A new study led by Dr. Lance B. Price, professor of environmental and occupational health at Milken Institute School of Public Health (Milken Institute SPH) at the George Washington University, has linked Klebsiella pneumoniae-contaminated food to urinary and blood infections in patients.

[Photo: Dr. Lance B. Price]

To better understand potential contributions of foodborne Klebsiella pneumonia to human clinical infections, the multi-center research team compared Klebsiella isolates from retail meat products and human clinical specimens to assess their similarity based on whole genome sequencing. Dr. Price and his colleagues found that 47 percent of the 508 meat products purchased in 2012 from grocery stores in Flagstaff, Arizona, where the study was conducted, harbored Klebsiella and many of the strains recovered were resistant to antibiotics. The team also found Klebsiella, including resistant strains, comprised 10 percent of the 1,728 positive cultures from patients with either urinary or blood infections in the Flagstaff area. The researchers used whole-genome sequencing to compare Klebsiella isolated from the meat samples with the patient samples and found that some isolate pairs were nearly identical.

The multi-center study was led by Dr. Price and scientists at Milken Institute SPH. Other authors on the study include researchers from Translational Genomics Research Institute, Flagstaff Medical Center, the VA Healthcare System-Minneapolis, Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, the University of Minnesota and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The study, “Intermingled Klebsiella pneumoniae populations between retail meats and human urinary tract infections,” was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.