A strain of drug-resistant bacteria carried by some livestock – the MRSA strain Staphylococcus aureus CC398 – has also been found in patients, University of Edinburgh researchers say.
People and animals generally harbour distinct variants of CC398, which the team say evolved from the same bacteria.
However, the CC398 strain found in livestock can be transmitted to humans, and the study shows that this has happened on many occasions.
The study, Time-Scaled Evolutionary Analysis of the Transmission and Antibiotic Resistance Dynamics of Staphylococcus aureus Clonal Complex 398, was published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology
The study provides new evidence that the livestock-associated CC398 strain could spread in hospitals, including those with newborn babies.
CC398 from farm animals is resistant to some common antibiotic drugs, which could make it harder to treat.
The strain’s enhanced drug resistance in livestock is likely the result of widespread use of antibiotics on farms, scientists say.
Patients in hospitals and nursing homes are at increased risk of MRSA infection, but healthy people in the wider community can also become infected.
Read the complete University of Edinburgh news release HERE
Lead researcher Dr Melissa Ward said: “Our findings emphasise the need for strict biosecurity practices in the food production industry, as well as continued surveillance and infection control of MRSA in hospitals. Responsible use of antibiotics in healthcare settings and agriculture is of utmost importance.”