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Risk of Antibiotic-Resistant


George, Alexandra N.; Stewart, Jill R.; Evans, Jessica C.; & Gibson, Jacqueline MacDonald (2020). Risk of Antibiotic-Resistant. Risk Analysis, 40(8), 1645-1665.


The World Health Organization has declared antibiotic resistance "one of the biggest threats to global health." Mounting evidence suggests that antibiotic use in industrial-scale hog farming is contributing to the spread of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. To capture available evidence on these risks, we searched peer-reviewed studies published before June 2017 and conducted a meta-analysis of these studies' estimates of the prevalence of swine-associated, antibiotic-resistant S. aureus in animals, humans, and the environment. The 166 relevant studies revealed consistent evidence of livestock-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) in hog herds (55.3%) raised with antibiotics. MRSA prevalence was also substantial in slaughterhouse pigs (30.4%), industrial hog operation workers (24.4%), and veterinarians (16.8%). The prevalence of swine-associated, multidrug-resistant S. aureus (MDRSA)-with resistance to three or more antibiotics-is not as well documented. Nonetheless, sufficient studies were available to estimate MDRSA pooled prevalence in conventional hog operation workers (15.0%), workers' household members (13.0%), and community members (5.37%). Evidence also suggests that antibiotic-resistant S. aureus can be present in air, soil, water, and household surface samples gathered in or near high-intensity hog operations. An important caveat is that prevalence estimates for humans reflect colonization, not active infection, and the health risks of colonization remain poorly understood. In addition, these pooled results may not represent risks in specific locations, due to wide geographic variation. Nonetheless, these results underscore the need for additional preventive action to stem the spread of antibiotic-resistant pathogens from livestock operations and a streamlined reporting system to track this risk.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Article Type


Year Published


Journal Title

Risk Analysis


George, Alexandra N.
Stewart, Jill R.
Evans, Jessica C.
Gibson, Jacqueline MacDonald