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Posted Sat Jan 24 2009: from Scientific American:
A New Strain of Drug-Resistant Staph Infection Found in U.S. Pigs
A strain of drug-resistant staph identified in pigs in the Netherlands five years ago, which accounts for nearly one third of all staph in humans there, has been found in the U.S. for the first time, according to a new study. Seventy percent of 209 pigs and nine of 14 workers on seven linked farms in Iowa and Illinois were found to be carrying the ST398 strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)... If it turns out to cause disease in humans in the U.S., ST398 could further complicate the general struggle against MRSA, which is already being fought on two fronts: against a hospital-acquired strain that began attacking U.S. patients in the late 1960s, and a community strain that began sickening healthy people (who had not been hospitalized) in the 1990s. The staph strains are related, but have different genetic profiles and different resistance patterns. The hospital strain contaminates wounds and causes overwhelming bacterial infections, whereas the community strain causes a range of symptoms from mild infections to rapidly fatal pneumonias. Both can be deadly: In 2007 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that in 2005 94,360 Americans contracted invasive infections and 18,650 of them died; 85 percent of the deaths, it said, were caused by the health care strain.
[Read more stories about: pandemic, superbugs]

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