According to a report in the American Society of Microbiology’s newsletter mBio, researchers found that one strain of the Staphylococcus aureus germ, CC398, began as a fairly harmless human bacterium known as MSSA, but then evolved into a "super bug" after colonizing in pigs, chickens and other livestock at corporate factory farms.
Mother Jones reports that inside the animals, the bacterial strain was bombarded by numerous antibiotics, drugs commonly used by factory farmers to reduce infections and disease in animals.
This allowed the germs to become resistant to antibiotics like tetracycline and methicillin. The germs also became bidirectional and could be freely transmitted between humans and livestock.
The resistant CC398 strain first appeared in livestock in 2003, but is now widespread among U.S. farm animals and has been causing sepsis and skin infections, mostly in farm workers. The infection has not been able to transmit from human to human... yet.
The Food and Drug Administration announced in January that it is placing new restrictions on the wholesale use of some antibiotics in farm animals.
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