A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Internal Medicine has found a correlation between hog manure applied as fertilizer and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. MRSA is often found in the skin of infected persons and produces hard, red, swollen sores, usually at the base of hair follicles. These sores will produce puss much like a zit or pimple, but are much larger and reported to be very painful in some instances.
MRSA is particularly difficult to treat and in patients whose immune systems are already compromised, can lead to pneumonia or even death. It is estimated that roughly 1.2 million Americans are infected each year, but the majority of cases are contracted in hospitals after surgery or long hospital stays. Studies suggest that MRSA's resistance to antibiotics is due in part to the use of antibiotics in swine feed rations. The swine carry the bacteria which become antibiotic resistant and when manure from those animals is agitated and spread around, the bacteria is loosed and can find a home in the skin of humans.
Most cases contracted from agricultural exposure are very mild and often do little more than produce a few painful skin sores which can usually be cleared up with some potent antibiotics from the doctor. Cases contracted in a hospital setting, after surgery or other institutional exposure, tend to be much more serious, and have a greater likelihood of entering the patient's bloodstream.
MRSA is more easily prevented than cured simply by showering thoroughly with soap and warm water and washing hands frequently with soap after exposure to hog manure.
If you suspect you have been infected, see your doctor immediately and begin an antibiotic regimen. The sores will come and go but the bacteria will remain active in your system until treated by a doctor. Also note that the MRSA bacteria is highly drug resistant so it is very important that, if your doctor writes you a prescription, you follow the instructions to the letter and finish the entire bottle of pills.
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