US Pig Farm Contaminated With Superbug Gene

Pig drinking.

Samples from a US pig farm tested positive for a rare superbug gene.

Scientists have discovered a rare superbug gene on a pig farm and underline that raw meat might be contaminated with harmful germs.

Fortunately, the specimens scheduled for slaughter didn’t carry the superbug gene. Also, the other pigs were healthy, and the researchers found no threats to humans yet. However, they are still concerned about the presence of the mutant gene, especially because it shouldn’t have been on the pig farm.

As the researchers haven’t found the source of the contamination, they are conducting a comprehensive investigation to prevent it from spreading. According to Chair Thomas Wittum from the veterinary team and lead researcher at the Ohio State University, this superbug gene is extremely rare.

Also known as bla IMP-27, this gene makes bacteria resistant to carbapenems, a class of antibiotics regarded as a last resort to save patients in critical condition. The scientists are concerned about the existence of such a superbug gene which can make these antibiotics useless.

The researchers also discovered that this superbug is carried on a plasmid, a genetic material found in multiple species of bacteria present on the US pig farm. The team is worried that the superbug gene might get into germs which infect people, thus becoming almost impossible to eradicate.

Worse, it can mix with an antibiotic-resistant bacterium called CRE. When this superbug invades the bloodstream of a patient, it becomes life-threatening. More precisely, CRE kills fifty percent of the victims.

Another superbug gene was discovered this summer by researchers in an E. coli sample. The gene is known mcr-1, and is carried on plasmid too. Wittum says that the team has collected samples from many pigs suspected that they might carry life-threatening infections, and sent the samples for lab testing.

Based on the results, the bla IMP-27 superbug gene was found in one farm sample. Therefore, the researchers decided to take fecal samples, test pens, equipment, and fences. According to Wittum, the pig farm is medium-sized and has roughly 1,500 sows. The farm workers raise the pigs and the sell them for slaughter.

The researchers will continue taking samples from the piglets which will be born soon. This way, they will monitor if the superbug gene occurs in the pigs as well. By keeping an eye on the pig farm, the team aims to discover the source of this germ.

Image Source: Pixabay


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