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Government Does Not Test for Dangerous Bacteria in Pigs

Despite evidence that MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant strain of Staphylococcus bacteria that may be killing more Americans than AIDS, has been found in pigs in the U.S. and all over the world, the federal government has taken no measures to screen farm animals for the bacteria, reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer earlier this week.

Credit: Juan Carlos GaravitoRecent, worrying studies show that there could be a connection between MRSA and the antibiotics used to keep pigs alive in tight quarters on industrial farms. One University of Iowa study cited by the Post-Intelligencer found that 70 percent of 209 pigs tested on farms in Iowa and Illinois were infected with MRSA. U.S. officials told the paper that they were aware of the threat, even as they admitted that the government doesn't screen imported food for the potentially fatal bacteria or maintain data on the prevalence of MRSA in U.S. pigs.

As reported by Michael Pollan in the New York Times, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study in December 2007 showing that “MRSA from an animal reservoir has recently entered the human population and is now responsible for [more than] 20 percent of all MRSA in the Netherlands.”

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