Risk Analysis

Quantitative Assessment of Human MRSA Risks from Swine

Journal Article

The public health community, news media, and members of the general public have expressed significant concern that methicillin‐resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) transmitted from pigs to humans may harm human health. Studies of the prevalence and dynamics of swine‐associated (ST398) MRSA have sampled MRSA at discrete points in the presumed causative chain leading from swine to human patients, including sampling bacteria from live pigs, retail meats, farm workers, and hospital patients. Nonzero prevalence is generally interpreted as indicating a potential human health hazard from MRSA infections, but quantitative assessments of resulting risks are not usually provided. This article integrates available data from several sources to construct a conservative (plausible upper bound) probability estimate for the actual human health harm (MRSA infections and fatalities) arising from ST398‐MRSA from pigs. The model provides plausible upper bounds of approximately one excess human infection per year among all U.S. pig farm workers, and one human infection per 31 years among the remaining total population of the United States. These results assume the possibility of transmission events not yet observed, so additional data collection may reduce these estimates further.

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