MRSA Superbug Found in British Milk

The antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as MRSA ST398 has been found in English milk samples.

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Scientists in the United Kingdom have found a new strain of MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria superbug, in samples of British milk, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control recently announced.

Researchers found the strain of bacteria, known as MRSA ST398, in seven of the 1,500 samples tested. MRSA is typically found in pigs. The discovery of the bacteria, which is resistant to many types of antibiotics, is particularly alarming, experts say. Infected samples were found in five different farms across the country.

"Now we definitely have MRSA in livestock," Mark Holmes, who led the study, told England's The Independent. "What is curious is that it has turned up in dairy cows when in other countries on the continent it is principally in pigs."

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It is the first time that MRSA ST398 has been found in livestock in the United Kingdom, according to the center. According to the Centers for Disease Control, MRSA ST398 has been found in pigs in the midwestern United States, Canada, and the Netherlands.

Scientists say that the bacteria cannot be passed to humans through milk if it is pasteurized, but may be passed through raw milk or raw cheese. Staph infections can cause chest pain, fatigue, chills, and can quickly spread to multiple organ systems throughout the body.

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Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at jkoebler@usnews.com.