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Drug-resistant germs from livestock—born from overuse and misuse of antibiotics—can make their way off farms and into unsuspecting people, where they can cause difficult-to-treat infections.

But following their path from farms to people is tricky.

After decades of spats with public health and animal rights advocates, farm owners are not eager to share information on their antibiotic practices or the superbugs that may lurk on their farms.
Researchers caught in the middle have been left to find workarounds, collecting bits and pieces of data to try to retrace the steps of superbugs as they migrate off farms.

A new study, published in the April issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, offers some new, snotty clues about their path.
In the study, children of pig farm workers were more than twice as likely to have their noses stuffed with drug-resistant germs than other kids, researchers report. Perhaps more surprisingly, the nose-dwelling germs found in kids didn’t tend to match their parents’ snotty superbugs.

This suggests that superbugs may travel to kids more readily on clothes and equipment than through person-to-person contact—or at least adult-to-kid contact.
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