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Hog Workers May Carry Drug-Resistant Bacteria Days After They Leave The Farm

Sep 10, 2014

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A new study, funded in part by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), suggests that nearly half of workers who care for animals in large industrial hog farming operations may be carrying livestock-associated bacteria in their noses back to their homes and communities.
Previously it was believed that livestock-associated bacteria cleared from the noses of workers within 24 hours of being away from hog facilities, but the study led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that potentially harmful bacteria, including drug-resistant strains, remained with industrial hog farm workers up to four days after exposure to hogs. The results are featured online in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
“The public health implications associated with exposure to livestock-associated and drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus should be of great concern for hog workers, their families and their communities,” said Dave Love, PhD, co-author of the paper and an assistant scientist at CLF. “Unfortunately, these workers are the victims of a broken food system that unnecessarily exposes them to drug-resistant bacteria through the misuse of antibiotics in food animal production and improper waste treatment. Given these findings, it’s critical that we do not demonize hog workers and instead address the core issues driving pathogen exposure on industrial hog farms and food animal production sites.”

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future media contact: Natalie Wood-Wright at 443-287-2771 or

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health media contact: Stephanie Desmon at 410-955-7619 or