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

Scientists find key to regenerating blood vessels

November 23, 2017
A new study led by researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) identifies a signaling pathway that is essential for angiogenesis, the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels. The ...

Researchers find infectious prions in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patient skin

November 22, 2017
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)—the human equivalent of mad cow disease—is caused by rogue, misfolded protein aggregates termed prions, which are infectious and cause fatal damages in the patient's brain. CJD patients ...

Surprising roles for muscle in tissue regeneration, study finds

November 22, 2017
A team of researchers at Whitehead has illuminated an important role for different subtypes of muscle cells in orchestrating the process of tissue regeneration. In a paper published in the November 22 issue of Nature, they ...

Study reveals new mechanisms of cell death in neurodegenerative disorders

November 22, 2017
Researchers at King's College London have discovered new mechanisms of cell death, which may be involved in debilitating neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Cinnamon turns up the heat on fat cells

November 21, 2017
New research from the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute has determined how a common holiday spice—cinnamon—might be enlisted in the fight against obesity.

How rogue immune cells cross the blood-brain barrier to cause multiple sclerosis

November 21, 2017
Drug designers working on therapeutics against multiple sclerosis should focus on blocking two distinct ways rogue immune cells attack healthy neurons, according to a new study in the journal Cell Reports.

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.