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MRSA Superbug Found in Raw Pork

Friday, January 30, 2009 by: Patty Donovan
Tags: MRSA, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) In October, 2008, an investigation by KOMO-TV in Seattle, in partnership with Fisher Broadcasting stations across the region, found the super bug, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), in 3 packages of ground pork bought at grocery stores in California, Oregon and Idaho. They purchased a total of 97 packages of ground pork and pork cutlets and sent them to a USDA certified lab in Seattle for testing. This investigation was undertaken after one local young man died of MRSA pneumonia and another lost a leg to MRSA. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has resisted testing pork for MRSA according to KOMO. Although the findings are ominous there is no way to know if these 2 young men contracted MRSA from raw pork. This multi-drug resistant bacterium already kills more people in the US than AIDS. MRSA was once a problem only in institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes, but it is now increasingly diagnosed as "community acquired" meaning the patient was infected out in the community, not in an institution. MRSA is a multi-drug resistant superbug. Infections are extremely difficult to eradicate and MRSA pneumonia and sepsis have close to a 50% fatality rate.

"It all starts with just one bacterium which you cannot see with your naked eyes," said Dr. Mansour Samadpour, an expert bacterial microbiologist with IEH Laboratories where the testing was conducted. The USDA refuses to conduct testing although pigs are known to carry MRSA and a particularly virulent strain was discovered in pigs during a study conducted by the University of Iowa. "MRSA is a very different kind of bacteria," said Dr. Rebecca Goldburg, a biologist with Keep Antibiotics Working.
"As far as I`m concerned, the USDA and FDA are kind of asleep at the wheel on this one."

Canada and several European countries already test for MRSA in pork in grocery stores. KOMO investigators contacted the USDA with their findings and were informed again that there are no plans for testing. Both the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration were also contacted with the results. The FDA says they have started a small pilot study of raw meat in Washington, D.C., but they don`t have any results yet and don`t know when the study will be finished. This is something that can be screened for to keep the public protected. Is this not the purpose of the USDA, CDC and the FDA?

The National Pork Board just began testing pork in retail markets. Their study won`t be finished until around April 2009, but their preliminary results are similar to KOMO`s: about a three percent positive rate for MRSA. The Pork Board said MRSA is a priority, but they don`t know if it`s a risk to you. Although all these studies have indicated MRSA in the pork, the tests are so sensitive that there is no way of quantifying just how contaminated the meat is, whether it is teeming with MRSA or just has a few. However, remember, it just takes one to cause an infection.

Although most people believe that cooking meat well eliminates any chance of infection, this is untrue for MRSA because it can cause skin infections, unlike E-coli or salmonella. A person can become colonized or infected simply by touching an object contaminated with MRSA. Touching your nose or having an abrasion on your hands while preparing raw pork could potentially lead to colonization or outright infection. Colonization means the bacterium is present, but not causing any problems. Colonization of the nose and skin greatly increases your risk of an actual MRSA infection. MRSA infections range from hard to heal boils to life threatening pneumonia, sepsis (bacteria in the blood) and joint infections.

Canada has also reported contamination of ground pork and pork chops across the country. Just under 10% of ground pork and pork chops tested positive for MRSA, while there was no contamination of pork roasts. Canada began researching contamination of pork with MRSA after discovering MRSA in pigs in Ontario. Dr. Scott Weese, a veterinarian based at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph, is investigating the cause of the dramatic increase in community acquired MRSA in Canada. He stated: "My main concern is: if there`s MRSA on the surface of a pork chop and someone`s handling it and then they touch their nose, could they transmit it from the pork chop to their nose?" Although the investigators found nearly 10% of pork contaminated, he says that it is too soon to draw conclusions as to its role in the increase in community MRSA infections.

The Netherlands found MRSA in raw chicken in 2005 so the problem may not be limited to pork. Should you choose to continue to purchase pork, especially ground pork, make sure you use all safe food-handling practices such as defrosting in the refrigerator, not leaving raw meat at room temperature and washing your hands well with hot soapy water after handling. Besides the usual precautions, do not handle raw pork at all if you have cuts or abrasions on your hands. Always wear gloves when handling raw pork as tiny abrasions, especially around fingernails often go unnoticed. Buy range-fed meat from local farmers and avoid grocery store meat whenever possible.


About the author

Patty Donovan was in a wheelchair and could only walk around her house with a cane. She was on over 20 medications. When told to "take the morphine, get in the wheelchair and learn to live with it" by a neurosurgeon, she knew her life had to change. She is now almost a fanatic when it comes to healing through the use of "whole foods" and and natural remedies. Since that time, she has spent countless hours researching nutrtion and alternative health. After spending 30 years in the allopathic health care industry in both pharmacy and as an RN, she brings a unique perspective to Natural News readers. Since committing to this new life style, she no longer uses even a cane, has gotten off over 20 medications, lost over 50lbs and returned to work.

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