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Staph In Pigs And Pig Farmers: The Latest Reports (ICEID 1)

I’m spending the first part of this week at the International Conference for Emerging Infectious Diseases , a biennial scary-disease nerdgasm that is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society for Microbiology and other worthy organizations, and in this iteration has drawn about 1,600 participants from more than 50 countries. (You can see the program here . I had planned to live-blog it, but the hotel was just renovated and apparently they built a Faraday cage into it, since connectivity is a painful trickle.)

On Monday’s agenda, among other intriguing talks: Two updates on MRSA, methicillin-resistant S. aureus, among farmers in two states.

A quick recap: MRSA, drug-resistant staph, was first a hospital infection (starting in 1961), then spread into a broad “community MRSA” epidemic in people who have no connection to hospitals or healthcare (since about 1996) — and then sparked a third epidemic of “livestock-associated” MRSA, slightly different from the previous two and first identified (in 2004) in the families of Dutch pig-farmers. LA-MRSA — or more familiarly “pig MRSA,” though swine agriculture understandably dislikes the term — spread through the European Union, crossed to Canada in 2007, and in 2009 was identified in Iowa pigs and pig farmers by the research team led by Tara C. Smith, PhD , at the University of Iowa.

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