Incorporating Geography & Genetics: The Case of Drug Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus in Iowa

March 27, 2013
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Schaeffer Hall, The Commons (Rm 302)

Please join us for our next SSIG colloquium, on Wednesday, March 27th, from 12-1 p.m. Our speaker will be UI Department of Geography professor Margaret Carrel.

The emergence of drug resistance in pathogens, such as Staphylococcus aureus (SA) bacteria, is particularly concerning to public health. Geography is uniquely positioned to examine the evolution of pathogens across space and through time, and to link molecular change to interactions between population and environmental drivers. Drug resistance in human SA is driven in part by the emergence of drug resistant strains in livestock, pigs in particular. Iowa is the top swine producing state in the United States, and the ratio of pigs to people is around 6:1. 

Preliminary findings from two related studies will be presented in which we explore overarching questions related to the spatial patterns of drug resistant SA in rural Iowa and population-environment risk factors associated with those patterns. Firstly, the results of an SA survey conducted in rural Iowans indicate that drug resistance is widely, but not evenly, distributed across the state, and that there is spatial variation in the type of drug resistance observed. Secondly, results from an analysis of nasal swabs upon admission to the Iowa City VA medical center and residential proximity to swine feeding operations suggest that increased swine numbers in the immediate vicinity of the household increases the risk of MRSA positive swabs. Together, these studies indicate that spatial analysis of MRSA can illuminate places in the state where drug resistant SA can emerge and/or thrive.

We will meet in the Commons (302), Schaeffer Hall (SH) for this colloquium. Please contact Anthony Paik with any questions about this session at

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Leslie Gannon at (319) 335-6817 or