Multi-resistant bacteria represent a major problem not only in hospitals but also in animal husbandry. A study of the University Bonn describes how a farmer successfully eliminated these pathogens entirely from his pig stable. However, the radical hygiene measures taken in this case can only be applied in individual cases. Nevertheless, the work has yielded a number of recommendations – not only for farms but also for hospitals. The study appeared in the Journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Today some farms are implementing measures more frequently found in an operating theater: To enter the stable, employees have to change clothes. Before and after visiting the stables, hands must be cleaned thoroughly. Newly purchased animals are quarantined immediately. Particularly careful farmers arrange regular microbiological screens for resistant bacteria for themselves and their staff.
Dr. Ricarda Schmithausen obtains microbial samples to check whether the disinfection measures were successful.
(c) Photo: Ricarda Schmithausen / Uni Bonn
The purpose of these measures is to prevent the spread of dangerous pathogens – in particular multi-drug-resistant bacteria. Under certain circumstances these bacteria are dangerous, because infections are difficult to treat with antibiotics.
Two major problems are posed by methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and certain intestinal bacteria which produce extended-spectrum beta-lactamases (ESBL). Even the strictest precautions against these bacteria are often not 100 percent successful, because these pathogens are found not only in humans and animals but also on walls and even in the air of the stable. In a previous study, researchers at the University of Bonn found MRSA on every fifth pig, and an ESBL rate of 30 percent.
For the first time, researchers have successfully demonstrated that multi-resistant bacteria can be eradicated from a stable. "But these radical steps can only be implemented in very few cases," says the agronomist Dr. Ricarda Schmithausen of the University of Bonn. As part of the study, the stables of the farmer were completely renovated and an additional new stable was built. The measures were accompanied by a multi-level disinfection process.
This would have been impossible during the daily routine. The farmer had planned a conversion of his farming system and therefore had previously slaughtered his entire herd and then restocked with pigs. The newly purchased animals were tested randomly to prevent the introduction of new resistant bacteria. The measures were successful, according to Dr. Schmithausen:
"Today, two years after decontamination, the farm is still ESBL-free. MRSA, unfortunately, was a different story: Only two days later another MRSA variant was detected. Presumably, the new MRSA bacteria were introduced by one of the animals. In spite of all tests this cannot be avoided." Nevertheless, the health of the herd has improved significantly. As a result, the use of antibiotics is hardly necessary any more.
MRSA are first and foremost pathogenic for humans and are largely harmless for animals. Previous studies by the University of Bonn have shown that farmers carry multi-resistant bacteria more often than the general population – as a result of their close contact with animals. The colonisation remains mostly asymptomatic for farmers. However, it can be dangerous, if the pathogens are transmitted to immuno-compromised patients in hospitals.
The agronomist and physician Dr. Ricarda Schmithausen defends the farmers. "Most cooperating farmers are very well informed and act very responsibly concerning this issue by implementing high hygiene standards" she emphasizes.
The risk that MRSA and ESBL-E bacteria will spread further can be minimized through normal measures but cannot be reduced to zero. "Hospitals and livestock farms fight the same problems," she says. "Both sides can learn from each other – hospitals could, for example, screen inpatients more consistently for multi-resistant bacteria."
At universities, cooperations between agricultural and medical researchers are rarely found. Bonn is unique in this regard: in its FoodNetCenter, the faculties of Agriculture, Medicine, and Mathematics and Natural Sciences are working together. The following institutes cooperated in this study: the Institute of Animal Sciences (Prof. Brigitte Petersen, Dr. Ricarda Schmithausen) of the University and the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology (Prof. Gabriele Bierbaum, Dr. Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding (now Paul Ehrlich Institute)) and the Institute of Hygiene and Public Health (Prof. Dr. Martin Exner), University Hospital.
Publication: Eradication of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Enterobacteriaceae expressing extended-spectrum ß-lactamases (ESBL-E) on a model pig farm; DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01713-15
Contact for media inquiries:
Dr. med. Ricarda Schmithausen, Dipl.-Ing.agr.
Institute for Med. Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology (IMMIP)
University of Bonn
Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences