Antibiotics are supposed to protect us from dangerous bugs, but there’s always concern that overreliance on them could just make things even worse. A new strain of MRSA, antibiotic-resistant staph germs, has been detected in samples of milk from British farms, leading to concerns that antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” are spreading in livestock.
According to UPI, the new MRSA strain was detected in seven samples of milk from five different British farms. Mark Holmes of the department of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University said the detection of a new strain in dairy cows was a real concern.
“This is definitely a worsening situation,” he said.
MRSA infections are resistant to first-line antibiotics and can be serious in humans.
Pasteurization eliminates risk of MRSA infection to people who buy the milk or dairy products, but people in contact with the animals are at risk of infection and could spread it to others. According to The Independent, human cases of infection with the new strain have been detected in Scotland and Northern England.
According to Holmes, as more antibiotics are used on livestock it increases the chances that antibiotic-resistant bacteria like MRSA will evolve.
“Common sense tells us that anything we can do to reduce use of antibiotics will reduce the growth of resistant bugs,” Holmes said. “We want to wean our farmers off antibiotics and the only way we can do that is with better regulation.”