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Livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) colonisation and infection among livestock workers and veterinarians: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Chen Chen1,
  2. Felicia Wu1,2
  1. 1Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
  2. 2Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, United States
  1. Correspondence to Dr Felicia Wu, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA; fwu{at}


Objectives Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an increasing public health concern worldwide. The objective of this study was to calculate a summary odds ratio (OR) of livestock-associated MRSA colonisation and infection in humans, and to determine specific risk factors in livestock production contributing to MRSA colonisation.

Methods We screened PubMed and Embase for studies published from 2005 to 2019 inclusive, reporting livestock-associated (LA)-MRSA colonisation and infection among livestock workers/veterinarians, their families, and community members not regularly exposed to livestock. The primary outcome of interest was the OR of LA-MRSA colonisation comparing exposed and control groups. Quality was assessed according to the Newcastle-Ottawa quality assessment scale. A meta-analysis using a random-effects model was conducted to calculate a pooled OR. The heterogeneity in the meta-analysis was assessed using the method, and publication bias was evaluated using funnel plots.

Results A total of 3490 studies were identified by the search, with 37 studies including 53 matched exposed-control groups and 14 038 participants eligible for the meta-analysis. The pooled OR for LA-MRSA among livestock workers and veterinarians is 9.80 (95% CI 6.89 to 13.95; p=0.000; I2=73.4), with no significant publication bias (Egger’s p=0.66). The OR for swine workers was highest at 15.41 (95% CI 9.24 to 25.69), followed by cattle workers (11.62, 95% CI 4.60 to 29.36), veterinarians (7.63, 95% CI 3.10 to 18.74), horse workers (7.45, 95% CI 2.39 to 23.25), livestock workers (5.86, 95% CI 1.14 to 30.16), poultry workers (5.70, 95% CI 1.70 19.11), and industrial slaughterhouse workers (4.69, 95% CI 1.10 to 20.0).

Conclusions Livestock workers, particularly swine farmers, are at significantly higher risk for LA-MRSA colonisation and subsequent infection. These results support the need for preventive practices to reduce LA-MRSA risk among those who handle and treat livestock.

Trial registration number CRD42019120403.

  • meta-analysis
  • health and safety
  • occupational health practice
  • epidemiology

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  • Contributors FW conceived and designed the study. CC did the literature review and data extraction. Both authors evaluated the studies. CC was involved in the data synthesis and statistical analysis. CC and FW contributed to the interpretation of the data and writing of the manuscript. Both authors agreed with its content and approved the final submitted version.

  • Funding This study was funded by USDA grant MICL02527 (FW).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.