An extremely antibiotic-resistant strain of the super-bacterium methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that has appeared in farm animals for the past 50 years can be transmitted to humans, a new study suggests.

The strain, CC398, has become the dominant type of MRSA in farm animals in Europe – probably due to the widespread use of antibiotics in pigs – and is also an increasingly common cause of human infection. , according to researchers, according to DPA / PA Media.

CC398 has maintained its antibiotic resistance for decades in pigs and other farm animals, the study found.

The strain is also able to adapt quickly to human hosts while maintaining antibiotic resistance.

According to scientists, the findings highlight the potential threat that this strain poses to public health.

This has been associated with an increasing number of cases of infection in humans, in people who have had, but also have not had, direct contact with farm animals.

“Historically, high levels of antibiotic use may have led to the evolution of this highly resistant MRSA antibiotic strain on pig farms,” ​​said study lead author Dr. Gemma Murray of the Wellcome Institute. Sanger from Great Britain.

“We have found that antibiotic resistance to this animal-associated MRSA is extremely stable – it has persisted for decades and as the bacterium has spread to more farmed animal species,” Murray said.

The use of antibiotics in farm animals in Europe has decreased considerably. Researchers say that applying this approach to pig farms – due to recent changes in strategy – may have a limited impact because the strain is very stable.

The strain is most commonly associated with pigs, but is present in a wide range of species.

According to the researchers, its spread was particularly evident on pig farms in Denmark, where the proportion of MRSA-positive herds increased from less than 5% in 2008 to 90% in 2018.

MRSA does not cause disease in these animals.

“Understanding the emergence and success of CC398 in farmed animals in Europe and its ability to infect humans is vital in managing public health risk,” said Lucy Weinert of the University of Cambridge’s Department of Veterinary Medicine. , the main author of the paper.

MRSA was first identified in human patients in 1960.

Due to its resistance to antibiotics, it is much more difficult to treat compared to other bacterial infections, and the World Health Organization (WHO) currently considers it one of the biggest threats to human health.

The research, funded by the Wellcome Institute, the UK Medical Research Council and the Beverly Sackler Foundation, was published in the journal eLife.

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