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Researchers: Superbug Killing 18,000 Americans A Year Found in Wild Animals

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October 22, 2012

Researchers: Superbug Killing 18,000 Americans A Year Found in Wild Animals

By Chad Love

A deadly, antibiotic-resistant "superbug" formerly found mostly in hospitals, gyms, and other high-traffic human areas has now been found for the first time in wildlife, according to this story on thescientist.com.

Wild animals harbor and transmit the most infamous and life-threatening drug-resistant germ, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to a study published this month (October 1) in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, which identified the deadly superbug in two wild rabbits and a shorebird. “[MRSA] can move all over,” epidemiologist and senior author of the study Tara Smith of Iowa told KCRG, a local ABC affiliate in Iowa. “It extends beyond your typical human environment: hospitals, gyms, homes. It can also be in the wild environment,” she added, and “animals can be reservoirs and transmit it to people.”

According to the story, researchers surveyed 114 animals from a wildlife center at Iowa State University, and found that seven animals carried non-drug resistant forms of the bug, including owls, a beaver, a heron, and a squirrel. But it's the discovery that three animals tested positive for MRSA that is raising eyebrows and concerns. The non drug-resistant form of the staph germ is easily treated with antibiotics.

The resistant MRSA form, however, kills an estimated 18,000 Americans a year, with many of those victims contracting the bacteria during hospital stays. Researchers aren't sure how wild animals are picking up MRSA, but according to the story the shorebird carried a strain similar to those found in hospitals, while the rabbits' strain was similar to those found on farms, which leads many to speculate that MRSA is being spread through sewage or water run-off.

Thoughts? Most of us wear gloves while field-dressing big game, but do stories like this make you think you should be wearing gloves for all your game-cleaning chores, large and small alike?

Comments (7)

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from Half-of-two wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Unfortunately, in this day and age, you can never be too safe. I've always worn gloves when handling game, whether it's deer, rabbit, pheasant, squirrel...whatever. I think it's a good habit to get into.

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from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Thrilling news. I guess I will make sure I buy a box of latex gloves before I go to deer camp this year.

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from WVOtter wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

I've never gotten in the habit of wearing gloves and probably won't start. Anthrax is in cattle and prairie animals, Tularemia is in rabbits, Plague is in squirrels, now MRSA in rabbits. Not to mention all the vector-borne pathogens we can pick up in the field. It's a scary prospect, but relatively low in the population.

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from chuckles wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Do you think gloves really help? I mean after gutting and skinning a deer my sense is if there were pathogens they would be on your clothes, boots, sleeves etc. to the point where contamination would be inevitable.
I keep hand sanitizer handy and wash my hands often but the gloves always rip and can't stop you from poking yourself with a knife which is the greatest danger of contamination that I see.
I used to wear gloves but just quit doing it a couple years ago after talking with some doctors who hunt.

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from Hobob wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

I am in much more danger driving to the hunt so no worries.

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from Silverback wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

chuckles, what did the dr.'s say that made you stop wearing gloves?

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from chuckles wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Silverback, basically that unless you have scrubs,completely sterilize the environment after the work, all the tools you use and don't ever break the gloves you cannnot avoid contamination. I do try to be careful but never made it through a dressing session without ripping the gloves on something and blood on clothes etc. I just rely on hand sanitizer and immediate clean up. Also I go slowly and think about things before putting knife and hands in the same area.
As an example I was gutting a doe this year and a bone fragement poked me while I was cutting the diaphragm free. Never saw it.

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from Half-of-two wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Unfortunately, in this day and age, you can never be too safe. I've always worn gloves when handling game, whether it's deer, rabbit, pheasant, squirrel...whatever. I think it's a good habit to get into.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jerry A. wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Thrilling news. I guess I will make sure I buy a box of latex gloves before I go to deer camp this year.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WVOtter wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

I've never gotten in the habit of wearing gloves and probably won't start. Anthrax is in cattle and prairie animals, Tularemia is in rabbits, Plague is in squirrels, now MRSA in rabbits. Not to mention all the vector-borne pathogens we can pick up in the field. It's a scary prospect, but relatively low in the population.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

Do you think gloves really help? I mean after gutting and skinning a deer my sense is if there were pathogens they would be on your clothes, boots, sleeves etc. to the point where contamination would be inevitable.
I keep hand sanitizer handy and wash my hands often but the gloves always rip and can't stop you from poking yourself with a knife which is the greatest danger of contamination that I see.
I used to wear gloves but just quit doing it a couple years ago after talking with some doctors who hunt.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hobob wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

I am in much more danger driving to the hunt so no worries.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Silverback wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

chuckles, what did the dr.'s say that made you stop wearing gloves?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from chuckles wrote 1 year 20 weeks ago

Silverback, basically that unless you have scrubs,completely sterilize the environment after the work, all the tools you use and don't ever break the gloves you cannnot avoid contamination. I do try to be careful but never made it through a dressing session without ripping the gloves on something and blood on clothes etc. I just rely on hand sanitizer and immediate clean up. Also I go slowly and think about things before putting knife and hands in the same area.
As an example I was gutting a doe this year and a bone fragement poked me while I was cutting the diaphragm free. Never saw it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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