Scientists Find New MRSA Superbug in Cows, Humans

Friday, June 3, 2011
By Paul Martin
June 03, 2011

British scientists have found a new strain of the “superbug” MRSA in milk from cows and in swab samples from humans and say it cannot be detected with standard tests.

Researchers said the find was “worrying” but added it was unlikely that the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bug, which is resistant to some antibiotics, could cause infections by getting into the food chain via milk.

Mark Holmes and a team of scientists from Cambridge University, found the new MRSA bug while researching S. aureus, a bug known to cause a potentially lethal disease in dairy cows called bovine mastitis. The discovery was published on Friday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

“To find the same new strain in both humans and cows is certainly worrying. However, pasteurization of milk will prevent any risk of infection via the food chain,” said Laura Garcia-Alvarez, who worked on Holmes’ team.

MRSA is estimated to kill 19,000 people each year in the United States — far more than HIV and AIDS — and a similar number in Europe.

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