Charles Sturt University (CSU) research has improved our understanding of the bacteria Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (or MRSA), providing important information for the pig industry and public health authorities.
Dr Shafi Sahibzada from the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation and CSU School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences was awarded his PhD funded by Australian Pork Limited in a ceremony in Wagga Wagga on Tuesday 11 December 2018.
Dr Sahibzada’s research identified and characterised a new strain of MRSA that had been introduced by humans into a single piggery. “Staphylococcus aureus, also known as Staph, are carried by many people on their skin and in the nose. These bacteria are usually harmless but can sometimes cause infection and illness”, Dr Sahibzada said.
Some strains of staph are resistant to the antibiotic called methicillin and these are known as MRSA. MRSA infections are often difficult to treat due to the limited number of antibiotics available to effectively treat them.
This research identified MRSA as a possible occupational risk for workers in close contact with pigs; however, there is no public health issue to the broader community. “Through sampling and modelling techniques my research has quantified the presence and limited impact of MRSA in the Australian pig industry,” Dr Sahibzada said.
The findings and recommendations outlined from this research could be used as a reference point to advocate for and develop relevant strategies and interventions to limit the spread of MRSA among pigs and piggery workers in Australia.