Swine exposure and methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureusinfection among hospitalized patients with skin and soft tissue infections in Illinois: A ZIP code-level analysis

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Abstract

Background:

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a bacterial pathogen, is a predominant cause of skin and soft tissue infections (SSTI) in the United States. Swine-production facilities have been recognized as potential environmental reservoirs of MRSA. To better understand how swine production may contribute to MRSA infection, we evaluated the association between MRSA infection among SSTI inpatients and exposure measures derived from national swine inventory data.

Methods:

Based on adjusted odds ratios from logistic regression models, we evaluated the association between swine exposure metrics and MRSA infections among all Illinois inpatient hospitalizations for SSTI from January 2008 through July 2011. We also assessed if swine exposures had greater association with suspected community-onset MRSA (CO-MRSA) compared to suspected hospital-onset MRSA (HO-MRSA). Exposures were estimated using the Farm Location and Agricultural Production Simulator, generating the number of farms with greater than 1000 swine per residential ZIP code and the residential ZIP code-level swine density (swine/km2).

Results:

For every increase in 100 swine/km2 within a residential ZIP code, the adjusted OR (aOR) for MRSA infection was 1.36 (95% CI: 1.28−1.45). For every additional large farm (i.e., >1000 swine) per ZIP code, the aOR for MRSA infection was 1.06 (95% CI: 1.04−1.07). The aOR for ZIP codes with any large farms compared to those with no large farms was 1.24 (95% CI: 1.19−1.29). We saw no evidence of an increased association for CO-MRSA compared to HO-MRSA with either continuous exposure metric (aORs=0.99), and observed inconsistent results across exposure categories.

Conclusions:

These publicly-available, ecological exposure data demonstrated positive associations between swine exposure measures and individual-level MRSA infections among SSTI inpatients. Though it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions due to limitations of the data, these findings suggest that the risk of MRSA may increase based on indirect environmental exposure to swine production. Future research can address measurement error related to these data by improving exposure assessment precision, increased specification of MRSA strain, and better characterization of specific environmental exposure pathways.

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