Two of our most recent projects for the National Pork Board involved quantifying human health risks due to the presence of MRSA and Toxoplasma Gondii in pigs and pork products. Both were collaborations with Cox Associates.
The main objective of the MRSA project was to place a data-driven upper bound on the number of MRSA-related infections per year in the United States, caused by use of antibiotics in swine. We used probability modeling and simulation to obtain a distribution of the likely outcomes. We found a conservative upper bound of less than 1 excess infections per year among U.S. pig farm workers, and 1 per 31 years among the remaining U.S. population, a result that declines with each year that no actual cases are found.
The toxoplasmosis project focused on quantifying the tradeoffs inherent to modern enclosed pork production versus open or free-range production. The latter exposes pigs to T. Gondii, a parasite that threatens the health of unborn children and immuno-compromised adults. Using a probabilistic simulation based on all available research data, we found that, on average, we should expect an additional human loss of one QALY (Quality Adjusted Life Year) due to Toxoplasmosis for every 676 [C.I. 164-3629] hogs moved from confined to open production.
Click here for a copy of the MRSA report submitted to the Pork Board (revision to appear soon in the journal, Risk Analysis)
Click here for a copy of the Toxoplasmosis report submitted to the Pork Board (under review for publication)