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Cows may be the cause of the next health epidemic.
The bovine animal is a reservoir for antibiotic-resistant superbugs, such as the notoriously difficult-to-treat MRSA, which are a serious threat to human health, a ground-breaking Finnish study found.
MRSA - Methicillin - Sepsis - Pneumonia - Toxic
MRSA is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin and can cause life-threatening sepsis, pneumonia or toxic shock syndrome.
This is the first time antibiotic resistance has been linked to cows, with pigs previously being blamed for driving the crisis. This raised fears humans may catch superbugs if they eat infected pork.
Experts - Resistance - Poses - Risk - Terrorism
Experts have previously warned antibiotic resistance poses 'as big a risk as terrorism'. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the resistance crisis 'has the potential to affect anyone, of any age, in any country.'
Researchers from the University of Helsinki analysed the evolution of staphylococcus bacteria, such as MRSA, over several millennia.
Genes - Bacteria - Humans - Animals - DNA
The genes of the bacteria were assessed in humans and animals to determine the DNA changes that allowed the pathogen to infect new creatures over thousands of years.
As well as allowing the bacteria to infect new species, these DNA changes may have also caused the pathogen to develop antibiotic resistance.
Analysis - Humans - Hosts - Staphylococcus - Resistant
Based on this genetic analysis, humans appear to have been the original hosts for staphylococcus, which was not antibiotic resistant at the time.
This bacteria then spread to farm animals when they were domesticated to become livestock around 10,500 years ago.
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