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Animal Farms May Produce Superbugs

Flies, Roaches on Pig Farms May Spread Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria to Humans

Superbugs From Farms: Implications

While there are no direct studies to show the link between bacteria in insects found on pig farms and human health, according to Zurek, he says the potential risk is there.

The best strategy for operators of swine farms? Zurek says the operators should try to lower the population of the insects, both flies and cockroaches. "It's impossible to get rid of them," he says.

Superbugs From Farms: Other Views

The new research echoes those of other studies, says Abigail Salyers, PhD, professor of microbiology at the University of Illinois-Urbana, who reviewed the study for WebMD.

The concern among scientists, she says, is that once your intestinal tract becomes colonized with these bacteria, "you are like a ticking time bomb."

Later, if you get an infection following  a procedure in the abdominal cavity, such as an appendix removal or a colonoscopy that accidentally perforates the colon, the worry is that the antibiotic-resistant bacteria can make treatment difficult.

"This is a theoretical concern," she tells WebMD. "There's so much talk about whether there is a risk or not, we need to do the study to find out is there a risk to human health or not [from these organisms]," she says."There is a potential problem here but it hasn't been proven."

Speaking on behalf of the National Pork Board, Paul Sundberg, DVM, PHD, tells WebMD that his organization welcomes scientifically based information and research.

However, he says, "Saying something that happens out on the farm affects something in the city is conjecture."

"Enterococci is a ubiquitous organism," he says. It would have been big news, he says, if the samples hadn't contained it.

''No one is going to say enterococci couldn't multiply on a piece of food that could have come from flies. It's within possibility, but the question is, how biologically plausible and feasible is this as a risk to human health?"

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