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MSU Researchers Study MRSA Risks

Those working on swine farms are more than 15 times more likely to possess MRSA.

Concern continues to rise for agricultural workers who face high levels of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, widely known as MRSA.

According to Michigan State University’s Felicia Wu, those working on swine farms are more than 15 times more likely to possess MRSA acquired from livestock. For cattle workers, that number is nearly 12.

Wu, a John A. Hannah distinguished professor in food safety, toxicology and risk management, said that for livestock veterinarians, the number approaches eight.

She and Chen Chen, a research assistant professor in the university’s department of food science and human nutrition, published their findings, along with the risk factors for other related professions, in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Their findings came on the heels of researching through 15 years of published literature where they extracted data about the likelihood of people acquiring the bacteria based on their livestock-related profession.

Wu joined the faculty of MSU in 2013 with a joint appointment in the department of food science and human nutrition and the department of agricultural, food and resource economics. Her research examines the national and global burden of foodborne disease, how improved nutrition can counteract the harmful effects of toxins, and how cost-effective strategies can improve food safety in the United States and worldwide.

Recently, her work has expanded to examine the risk of antimicrobial resistance from antibiotic use in livestock production, as well as how those risks can be curbed.

For her research on the impact of aflatoxin regulations on global liver cancer, Wu was awarded a U.S. National Institutes of Health EUREKA Award.

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