CARROLL COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof put the small town ofCamden under the microscope this week after reporting that localhog farms may have caused an outbreak of MRSA or staph infections.Carroll County Ag Association member Miriam Robeson said thearticle is not completely accurate.
"I think it's a very poorly researched article and it's intendedjust to make people upset about the livestock industry, not toreally inform them," said Robeson.
Kristof alleges that hog farms, like one near the Camden area,overuses antibiotics in livestock feed. He said the process leadsto MRSA in the pigs, which could be transferred to humans who earpork, use a contaminated plate or utensil or from wastes leakinginto ground water.
Robeson said Kristof's accusations do not represent how CarrollCounty farmers operate.
"The producers in Carroll County are very responsible. They workvery hard. They have to drink the water, eat the food, live withthe animals or live near the animals that they take care of.They're going to be very responsible producers," said Robeson.
It was the late Dr. Thomas Anderson, of Camden, who informedKristof that he treated more than 50 MRSA cases from 2007 to 2008.Linda Barnard, Anderson's assistant for eight years, said they sawMRSA patients the most in the fall and winter of both years. Shesaid she relayed the same information to Kristof during his visitin January of this year. She stressed that Dr Anderson did notintend to pinpoint hog operations, he only speculated.
Scott said linking the overuse of antibiotics can't be truebecause it's just not cost effective.
"We are very heavily government regulated on the amount ofantibiotics we can use. It's just an extra expense that theproducer doesn't need to stay profitable. So, he can't afford towaste antibiotics," Scott said.
Purdue University experts on livestock and antibioticresistance, Paul Ebner and Ching Ching Wu responded to the articlecalling it "highly speculative."
Indiana Pork also issued a statement that read "if you readbetween the lines, there is some telling language."
The New York Times article stated Dr. Anderson died abruptly atthe age of 54. It said there was no autopsy performed, butblood test suggested a heart attack or aneurysm.
Barnard said although Dr. Anderson had MRSA about three or fourtimes, it was not believed to be the cause of his death.
MRSA is short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcusaureus.
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