The MRSA bacterium, which is resistant to antibiotics, has spread rapidly in the past few years on pig farms. Extensive use of antibiotics is thought to help it spread, but reducing the use of antibiotics is not enough to eliminate MRSA on pig farms, says Els Broens in her doctoral thesis.
In order to cut the transmission of MRSA from pigs to humans, the bacterium needs to be combatted at source: on the farm. Only reducing antibiotic use will not solve the problem says Broens, because the resistant bacteria can spread and thrive among pigs that have not had any antibiotics. Besides reducing antibiotic use, Broens argues for hygiene measures in order to prevent the spread of resistant bacteria on and between pig farms. This requires a joint plan by farmers, politicians, supermarkets and vets, says the PhD candidate.
Els Broens is due to receive her PhD on 28 October from Mart de Jong, professor of Quantitative Veterinary Epidemiology.