June 22011 -- Researchers have discovered a new strain of antibiotic-resistant superbug bacteria in milk. This previously undetectable strain has also caused human infections.
The bacteriuma strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)appears to be relatively rare. It turns up in about 1% of MRSA cultured from humans in the U.K.
Researchers say it poses little threat to people who drink milk or eat dairy products like cheesesince pasteurization and digestion kill bacteriaincluding MRSA.
Any danger to peopleresearchers saywould likely come from contact with cows that carry the strain.
Whether or not the new strain may be present in cattle or milk in the U.S. Is an open question.
"The main worry would be that these cows represent a pool of the bacteria and these bacteria end up colonizing people that work or live on farms and they take it out to the wider community" says study researcher Mark A. HolmesVetMBa senior lecturer in the department of veterinary science at the University of CambridgeEngland.
Of greater concernthey sayis the fact that this new MRSA strain carries a gene that allows it to elude detection by current "gold standard" polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests that are favored by hospitals and labs for their speed.
"If you end up with a serious infection from this bacteria and your sample goes to a laboratory to be tested and the only means of testing they do is the PCR testingyou could be falsely negatively diagnosedbe given methicillin-like drugs to treat itand they would be ineffective" says Holmes.
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