Animals now picking up bugs from people, study shows

Oct 26, 2009

Globalisation and industrialisation are causing diseases to spread from humans to animals, a study has shown.

Researchers from The Roslin Institute of the University of Edinburgh have shown that a strain of bacteria has jumped from humans to chickens.

It is believed to be the first clear evidence of bacterial pathogens crossing over from humans to animals and then spreading since animals were first domesticated some 10,000 years ago.

The study identified a form of the bacteria - of which MRSA is a subtype - in chickens, and found that the bacteria originally came from humans.

Genetic testing showed that the bacteria crossed over from one species to another around 40 years ago, coinciding with a move towards intensive farming practices.

In comparison to the corresponding form of Staphylococcus aureus in humans, which was isolated to one geographical area, the strain in chickens was spread across different continents.

in chicken flocks are a major economic burden on the industry and the spread of bacteria from humans to chickens could have a huge impact on poultry farming. If bacteria are also shown to be crossing over from humans to other livestock then there could be an impact on food security.

Dr. Ross Fitzgerald, of The Roslin Institute, said: "Half a century ago chickens were reared for their eggs, with meat regarded as a by-product. Now the demand for meat has led to a poultry industry dominated by a few multinational companies which supply a limited number of breeding lines to a global market - thereby promoting the spread of the bacteria around the world."

The are a major cause of animal diseases, including bone infections in poultry. Further research will look at analysing other livestock for emerging pathogens and diseases which may have come from humans.

The study is published in the .

Source: University of Edinburgh

Explore further: Poland suffers first cases of African swine fever in pigs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Salmonella in garden birds responsive to antibiotics

Jun 02, 2008

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that Salmonella bacteria found in garden birds are sensitive to antibiotics, suggesting that the infection is unlike the bacteria found in livestock and humans.

Arsenic in chicken feed may pose health risks to humans

Apr 09, 2007

Pets may not be the only organisms endangered by some food additives. An arsenic-based additive used in chicken feed may pose health risks to humans who eat meat from chickens that are raised on the feed, according to an ...

Scientists discover 21st century plague

Nov 24, 2008

Bacteria that can cause serious heart disease in humans are being spread by rat fleas, sparking concern that the infections could become a bigger problem in humans. Research published in the December issue of the Journal of ...

Recommended for you

New device detects deadly lung disease

3 hours ago

A scientist from the University of Exeter has developed a simple, cheap and highly accurate device for diagnosing a frequently fatal lung disease which attacks immune deficient individuals such as cancer ...

User comments : 3

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shootist
not rated yet Oct 26, 2009
I can think of many cross species diseases, influenza for one, anthrax another. One viral, one bacterial. Why is this news?
Mandan
5 / 5 (2) Oct 26, 2009
"believed to be the first clear evidence of bacterial pathogens crossing over from humans to animals and then spreading since animals were first domesticated some 10,000 years ago."
Commentateur
not rated yet Oct 26, 2009
It's likely news also because of the cross-species vectorial direction (human to animal) combined with the possible decrease in the target animal's genetic diversity (such as commercial chicken), which heightens its vulnerability.