by Christian L. Wright for The New York Times
IN 1993, Russ Kremer was driving his new boar from a pen to the sows on his farm in Osage County, Mo. The boar became aggressive while passing another boar and swung his head around abruptly, puncturing Mr. Kremer's knee with his tusk. Mr. Kremer, a fifth-generation pig farmer, said he didn't think much of it until his leg swelled to twice its normal size.
He checked into the hospital and "they gave me all kinds of antibiotics," Mr. Kremer said, but the infection was resistant to them. The doctors finally determined that the cause was a mutated form of staphylococcal bacteria. Mr. Kremer recovered after a course of the most powerful antibiotic, and then he traced the history of the boar that he had bought from a farmer in Kansas.
"The original farmer had fed penicillin daily to his hogs to keep in check a staph problem that he had," said Mr. Kremer, who studied genetics at the University of Missouri and had, until then, been hog farming in a conventional, intense-production style. The experience awoke him to the fact of resistance to antibiotics in livestock and the significant health risk it posed to humans. "I went cold turkey," he said.