Superbugs from swine? Antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in flies, roaches on hog farms

January 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Antibiotics are frequently used on commercial hog farms not only to fight disease, but also to help pigs gain weight faster. New research from North Carolina State University and Kansas State University shows that the common pests that live on these farms acquire antibiotic-resistant bacteria and have the potential to spread these bacteria throughout the farm and to residential settings.

Cockroaches and house flies on swine farms in North Carolina and Kansas contained many of the same drug-resistant bacteria present in hog feces, suggesting that these common pests acquired the bacteria from contact with swine . These drug-resistant bacteria are rarely found in and flies collected in urban areas.

The bacteria, different members of a family of common digestive bacteria called enterococci, found in the digestive tracts of farm flies and roach feces contained certain genes that provide resistance to , says Dr. Coby Schal, Blanton J. Whitmire Distinguished Professor of at NC State and a co-author of a paper describing the research, which was published online this week in the journal BMC Microbiology. Some of these bacteria are resistant not only to single common infection-killing antibiotics like tetracycline and streptomycin, but also to combinations of antibiotics, making them multi-drug resistant.

“The big concern is not that humans will acquire drug-resistant bacteria from their properly cooked bacon or sausage, but rather that the bacteria will be transferred to humans from the common pests that live with pigs and then move in with us,” Schal says. “It’s also possible that these farm flies and farm roaches carry other microbes of great importance to human health.”

Antibiotic-resistant – “superbugs” in the popular parlance – are an increasing problem in the United States, causing increased health-care costs, prolonged hospitalization for infections and higher human mortality rates.

“Pest-management strategies are important – the fly at your picnic or roach scuttling across the living room floor can be more than just a nuisance,” Schal adds.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

How the nervous system controls tumor growth

March 22, 2017

(Medical Xpress)—From the time it first comes online during development the nervous system begins to exact precise control over many biologic functions. In some cases, too much control. When it does, a little nerve-squelching ...

Surprising new role for lungs—making blood

March 22, 2017

Using video microscopy in the living mouse lung, UC San Francisco scientists have revealed that the lungs play a previously unrecognized role in blood production. As reported online March 22, 2017 in Nature, the researchers ...

Using a smartphone to screen for male infertility

March 22, 2017

More than 45 million couples worldwide grapple with infertility, but current standard methods for diagnosing male infertility can be expensive, labor-intensive and require testing in a clinical setting. Cultural and social ...

Weight-bearing exercises promote bone formation in men

March 22, 2017

Osteoporosis affects more than 200 million people worldwide and is a serious public health concern, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Now, Pamela Hinton, associate professor in the Department of Nutrition ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.