The overall goal of this project is to develop the evidence base for community and workers to respond to shared risks of pathogen exposures in rural areas where industrial food animal production operations are located. The overall hypothesis is that workers in food animal production and nearby communities share risks of exposure to and health impacts from exposure to community associated methicillin-resistant Staphyococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) of livestock origin, which is an emerging public health issue of major proportions in the US and for which there is growing evidence that industrial food animal production is a significant source especially for farmers, farm workers, and rural communities. The project will be carried out in partnership with representatives from community and national NGOs, labor unions, and other research groups. We will provide information on the following: (a) what is the prevalence of MRSA exposure in workers and communities in IFAP areas, (b) what are the workplace factors associated with risks of occupational exposure;(c) what are the pathways by which occupational exposures affect community health, including social networks and geospatial proximity, by which pathogen exposures may be transmitted across the work/environment nexus and among communities;(e) what populations are at special risk;and (f) what are the tractable barriers to risk reduction and effective actions by communities, public health officials, and government at all levels. The results of this research will be translated into public health actions through our partnership with communities, NGOs and labor and we will also develop an accessible program for evaluation to ensure policy effectiveness and empowerment of labor and community stakeholders in this process. The research component will involve a community based participatory health study to investigate risks of MRSA exposure among workers and community members, molecular typing of MRSA isolates, geospatial methods to investigate person-to-person contact and proximity factors, and multivariate regression analysis to identify other risk factors. The public health component will emphasize communication through multiple media, informational materials for community and labor use, analysis of existing policies in public health, environment, and agriculture. The evaluation component will cover both process and output to assess efficacy and uptake of the public health component, and to identify knowledge gaps that impede public health actions and community and labor empowerment.

Public Health Relevance

This project links research with public health action through our focus on translatable research that will define points of intervention to reduce the emergence and spread of community acquired methicillin resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (CA-MRSA) among workers and communities. It s now recognized that much of the increasing prevalence of MRSA infections in the US is related to community sources and it is also increasingly clear that contact with animals, including swine and poultry, is an important and largely overlooked source of CA-MRSA. This project will carry out the first study to investigate these connections in the US and the first to study preventable risk factors that connect occupational and community populations in terms of exposures to livestock associated CA-MRSA.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1-SET-V (01))
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Frederick, Linda J
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Johns Hopkins University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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Neyra, Ricardo Castillo; Frisancho, Jose Augusto; Rinsky, Jessica L et al. (2014) Multidrug-resistant and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hog slaughter and processing plant workers and their community in North Carolina (USA). Environ Health Perspect 122:471-7
Davis, Meghan F; Price, Lance B; Liu, Cindy Meng-Hsin et al. (2011) An ecological perspective on U.S. industrial poultry production: the role of anthropogenic ecosystems on the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria from agricultural environments. Curr Opin Microbiol 14:244-50
Feingold, Beth J; Vegosen, Leora; Davis, Meghan et al. (2010) A niche for infectious disease in environmental health: rethinking the toxicological paradigm. Environ Health Perspect 118:1165-72