Today, science revisits the ever-concerning issue of MRSA, explores the intersections of the trombone and data analysis, sequences the DNA of a 700,000 year old horse, and watches people in China go crazy over algae.

Industrial livestock farms may be promoting drug-resistant staph bacteria with habitual use of antibiotics, study says
To address the swelling concern of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, researchers are seeking out reservoirs of bacterial growth and development. One study focused in North Carolina found that workers from industrial livestock operations (ILOs) carry significantly more drug-resistant staph bacteria than workers from antibiotic-free livestock operations (AFLOs) and their household members. Researchers were only able to access the workers, not the animals on the farms themselves, but believe this is nonetheless currently the biggest study of its kind that’s been done in the US.

By using nasal swabs, the study found that about 40% of both groups carried methicillin-resistant staph (MRSA); but 37% of the ILO group carried multidrug resistant staph (MDRSA), versus 19% of the AFLO participants (25-30% of the general population carries staph, and 1% carries MRSA). And 13 of the 41 ILO workers carried CC398 (aka Pig MRSA), while only one of the 42 AFLO workers did. This is not only bad news for the workers at ILOs, and it also means they could be a channel for the resistant bacteria to reach the rest of the population. At the time of the study, none of the workers or their household members were infected by the bacteria. I haven’t found any definitively identified human infections from livestock-associated MRSA in the US (anybody have some info?), although they’re a growing concern in several European countries.

Infinity Box Theater presents Psychlotron, a quarterly series about anything and everything
Who (this week): Stuart Dempster (trombonist, composer, UW professor emeritus); and Patrick Thompson (social data analyst, crowdsource knowledge builder)
What: “Smashing Ideas Together at High Speed - Just to See What Happens.” At each Psychlotron, two guests (who range from neuroscientists to magicians) speak for 15 minutes each about, well, whatever the hell they want, and then the audience participates in an extended discussion with them.
When: Tuesday, 6:30pm (happy hour starts at 5)
Where: Lucid Lounge

Scientists in Denmark have sequenced a 700,000 year old horse’s genome
The short pieces of DNA molecules were preserved in a horse leg bone that was found frozen in the permafrost in Yukon, Canada. It is the oldest genome to be sequenced from a prehistoric creature. By comparing this genome to one from a 43,000 year old horse, researchers found that a common ancestor of modern horses, zebras and donkeys was living about four million years ago.

China’s largest ever algae bloom covers the Yellow Sea in green glop
This year’s algae bloom covers 11,158 square miles, more than double last year’s. The “sea lettuce” isn’t harmful to humans, but can block sunlight from penetrating the water and suck oxygen out of the ecosystem. Officials are still in the process of cleaning it up, but people are still flocking to go glop-diving: