Jeff Bender is a professor of veterinary public health at the University of Minnesota, and his research interests lie in the intersection of animal health and human health, including animal-borne diseases of humans, food safety, and antibiotic resistant pathogens in animals. Dr. Bender will speak on “Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ( MRSA) in Veterinary Practice” at the American Society for Microbiology’s General Meeting in Philadelphia this May.
To a microorganism, vertebrates can all look pretty similar. Dr. Bender’s work focuses on pathogens that can make themselves at home in both human bodies and the bodies of our pets and livestock. Outbreaks of bacterial illnesses from meat products are well publicized these days, but the pathogens we have in common with animals don’t just travel in one direction. We humans can pass organisms and diseases to our animals, too. Dr. Bender says pets treated at veterinary clinics, for example, have come down with painful MRSA skin infections they picked up from their owners. Fluffy might become a temporary reservoir of MRSA in your home – capable of reinfecting you and your family, but the good news is that she probably won’t be a long term carrier of the bacterium.
In this interview, Dr. Merry Buckley asks Dr. Bender about MRSA in pets, whether farmers often get sick from animal-borne diseases, and whether he thinks it’s a good idea to “go organic” when shopping for food.
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