Nav: Home

Drug-resistant staph bacteria prevalence higher in young children living with hog workers

October 18, 2016

Young children who reside with adults who work on large industrial hog operations in rural North Carolina had a higher prevalence of antibiotic-resistant in their nasal passages than children who live with adults who live in the same community but do not work on such operations, a new study suggests.

While no children or adults participating in the study became sick, the researchers say the findings raise concerns because of how many children living with hog workers carried potentially harmful antibiotic-resistant S. aureus--methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) and multidrug-resistant S. aureus (MDRSA) --in their noses. The study, which will be published online Oct. 18 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, also raises the question of whether the bacteria might be able to travel home on the protective clothing and equipment worn by the workers.

In Europe, studies have shown that children living with industrial hog operation workers are at risk of acquiring drug-resistant staph from their parents, carrying these strains in their noses and also developing staph infections. This has led the European Union to restrict the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics that promote pig growth to ready them for market sooner.

"Before this study, we didn't know how common it was for children living with industrial hog operation workers in North Carolina to carry antibiotic-resistant S. aureus in their noses. Now that we know how prevalent MRSA and MDRSA are, important next steps are to learn how children are becoming exposed and whether there are implications for their health," says study leader Christopher D. Heaney, PhD, MS, an assistant professor in the Bloomberg School's departments of Environmental Health and Engineering and Epidemiology.

Although children tend to be susceptible to developing staph infections, the researchers caution that none of the children or adults participating in the study reported becoming sick during the course of the study. They say it is too early to draw any conclusions about possible infection and transmission, but note the high prevalence in children's nasal passages warrants further studies of possible connections between nasal carriage and infection.

Antibiotic-resistant S. aureus carriage is a concern in health care settings, including hospitals, because it can increase chances of infection and transmission to other patients. Patients are often tested for MRSA carriage so precautions can be taken.

The study, a collaboration among researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health and community organizers at the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help in Duplin County, NC, enrolled 400 adult-child pairs in the top 10 hog-producing counties in North Carolina, the second largest hog-producing state in the United States. One set of 198 pairs included an adult who worked at an industrial hog operation and a child under age seven living in the same household. The other 202 pairs consisted of an adult community resident who did not work on any type of livestock operation and a child under age seven living in the same household. The research team collected nasal swabs from all participants during home visits between March and October 2014. Adults in both groups also completed a questionnaire about themselves and the child participating in the study.

The researchers found that 23 percent of children living with industrial hog operation workers were carrying MDRSA, meaning the S. aureus was resistant to three or more antibiotic drug classes, as compared to eight percent of children who lived with adults who weren't livestock workers.

Meanwhile, 14 percent of children who lived with an industrial hog operation worker were carrying MRSA compared to six percent of children who lived with adults who weren't livestock workers.

The researchers also found that children who lived with an industrial hog operation worker who reported bringing home personal protective equipment such as masks, coveralls, boots and/or hats from the hog operation had a higher prevalence of carrying MRSA and MDRSA in their noses than children who lived with a hog operation worker who did not bring this equipment home. The researchers couldn't confirm whether the children were carrying antibiotic resistant S. aureus from pigs because they didn't have access to sample pigs at industrial hog operations.

Antibiotic resistance is a growing public health crisis, with an estimated two million people in the United States getting sick and thousands dying, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The use of antibiotics in livestock - as much as 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the United States are used in livestock production - is thought to be a contributing factor for increased antibiotic resistance. Last month, all 193 United Nations states pledged to combat the spread of antibiotic-resistance and related infections.

"Our hope is that this study raises awareness about antibiotic resistant S. aureus exposures among children living with industrial hog operation workers and initiates more discussions about antibiotic use and resistance in communities with a high density of hog production," says study author Devon Hall, executive director of the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help, located in Duplin County, North Carolina.
"The Prevalence of Antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Nasal Carriage among Industrial Hog Operation Workers, Community Residents, and Children Living in their Households: North Carolina, USA" was written by Sarah M. Hatcher, Sarah Rhodes, Jill R. Stewart, Ellen Silbergeld, Nora Pisanic, Jesper Larsen, Sharon Jiang, Amanda Krosche, Devon Hall, Karen Carroll and Christopher D. Heaney.

Funding for this study was provided by the Thrasher Research Fund, the National Science Foundation (NSF) (1316318), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (5T32ES007141-30 and T32ES007018), the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (DGE-114408) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (1K01OH010193-01A1).

Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Related Public Health Articles:

Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
Study clusters health behavior groups to broaden public health interventions
A new study led by a University of Kansas researcher has used national health statistics and identified how to cluster seven health behavior groups based on smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, physician visits and flu vaccination are associated with mortality.
Public health experts celebrate 30 years of CDC's prevention research solutions for communities with health disparities
It has been 30 years since CDC created the Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program, currently a network of 26 academic institutions across the US dedicated to moving new discoveries into the communities that need them.
Public health experts support federally mandated smoke-free public housing
In response to a new federal rule mandating smoke-free policies in federally funded public housing authorities, three public health experts applaud the efforts of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to protect nonsmoking residents from the harmful effects of tobacco exposure.
The Lancet Public Health: UK soft drinks industry levy estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children
The UK soft drinks industry levy, due to be introduced in April 2018, is estimated to have significant health benefits, especially among children, according to the first study to estimate its health impact, published in The Lancet Public Health.
Social sciences & health innovations: Making health public
The international conference 'Social Sciences & Health Innovations: Making Health Public' is the third event organized as a collaborative endeavor between Maastricht University, the Netherlands, and Tomsk State University, the Russian Federation, with participation from Siberian State Medical University (the Russian Federation).
Columbia Mailman School Awards Public Health Prize to NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T.
Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, was awarded the Frank A.
Poor health literacy a public health issue
America's poor record on health literacy is a public health issue, but one that can be fixed -- not by logging onto the internet but by increased interaction with your fellow human beings, a Michigan State University researcher argues.
Despite health law's bow to prevention, US public health funding is dropping: AJPH study
Although the language of the Affordable Care Act emphasizes disease prevention -- for example, mandating insurance coverage of clinical preventive services such as mammograms -- funding for public health programs to prevent disease have actually been declining in recent years.
'Chemsex' needs to become a public health priority
Chemsex -- sex under the influence of illegal drugs -- needs to become a public health priority, argue experts in The BMJ this week.

Related Public Health Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Moving Forward
When the life you've built slips out of your grasp, you're often told it's best to move on. But is that true? Instead of forgetting the past, TED speakers describe how we can move forward with it. Guests include writers Nora McInerny and Suleika Jaouad, and human rights advocate Lindy Lou Isonhood.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...