Manure and MRSA
I have concerns about the request from Darlington Ridge Dairy in Lafayette County to expand the amount of manure generated in relation to a planned dairy extension (see page 2B). I believe a large potential health hazard will result from this action. One such hazard is the exposure to antibiotic-resistant organisms known to result from bacterial regeneration in manure where such organisms can exist and continue to proliferate in the degree of antibiotic resistance.
I am a resident of Lafayette County and have extensive experience in the field of Infection Control, both in the military (30 years in the U.S. Air Force) and in civilian settings (an additional 20 years). Methicillin Resistant Staphlococcus Aureus infections, along with other antibiotic resistant infections, are dangerous and expensive infections. MRSA infections are classified according to the origin of the organism — hospital acquired vs, community acquired.
In July 2004, a local farmer spread manure on a field near my rural home. At the time, I remarked to my husband that it was very old manure. (Having spent my early life on a farm and later spending three summers on a farm, I learned to distinguish the different smells of manure.) Two days later, my husband, Doug, and I sat with our friends on the deck of our house. A large horse fly flew up, landed on my husband’s leg, and bit him just behind the ankle. (We had not seen any large flies until the manure was spread.) The following day, my husband had a routine doctor visit. At the close of the visit, the doctor asked if there was anything else needed. Doug asked him to look at the fly bite on the back of his leg. The doctor then asked Doug to go to the laboratory for blood work and to come back later in the afternoon to get the results.
About 5 p.m. the doctor advised Doug that his white blood count was elevated (indicating an infection) and that he needed to have intravenous antibiotic therapy. Subsequently, he was admitted to a hospital. By 9 that night, Doug’s leg was swollen to 4 times normal size and he was running a temperature of 104 degrees. When blood culture results were finally back, it was determine that Doug had a MRSA blood infection and that it was community acquired, based on the fly bite. He was in the hospital for 10 days before he was well enough to be released to home. Early antibiotic administration prevented my husband’s death.
In the subsequent eight years, he has had several hospitalizations. Each time the hospital places him in strict isolation, spending hundreds of dollars on gowns, gloves, masks, culturing techniques, and special handling procedures. With each visit, he presents a danger to staff and other patients, thus the need for isolation.
I believe that approving the Darlington Ridge Dairy request to increase its manure output presents a hazard to the health of residents of Lafayette County. I don’t think we truly know the extent of danger this additional bio-burden will present to our water supply. Our county leaders should seek the scientific answer to this question before approving an increase in size of the dairy. Imagine if our lakes and streams were contaminated by MRSA and we could no longer consider activities such as swimming, skiing, boating, and fishing to be safe for our citizens. I strongly recommend this request be denied.
I encourage all readers to explore what is going on in your county and carefully evaluate the information you are being given. I have seen too many places in the world where water has been made non-potable because of human decisions and actions. We cannot afford to have this done in Wisconsin.
Nancy L. Caldwell
Know thy neighbors
On April 4, I attended a public hearing hosted by the Department of Natural Resources to discuss the availability of a Nutrient Management Plan and the intent to issue a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit. The presentation was given by Mark Cain of the DNR among others. The apparent owners of the current dairy also gave their presentation.
Numerous times it was stated that they were trying to be nothing but transparent. When it was time to have public comment, I asked several questions for which I received no responses. This was no surprise because the DNR’s Legal Notice of hearing said “no cross-examination shall be allowed.” The only transparent part was several lawyers in the room.
Some people made statements about the wonderful job the dairy is currently doing and what wonderful neighbors they are, both of which statements I believe to be true, but who are my neighbors? A trip to the Lafayette County Courthouse and a public records search at the Register of Deeds office shows four people listed. The “mortgagor” has an address in Chino, Calif., which is also where the property tax billings are sent. The “lender,” who happens to be one of the largest commercial lenders in the U.S., has an address in Fresno, Calif.
There happens to be a known karst feature in the Town of Kendall, where a 40-cow dairy herd has been applying liquid manure within 25 feet of it. Local Natural Resources Conservation Service, Zoning and DNR were notified of this situation more than two years ago and nothing has been done. Why would I believe they are going to do a better job watching over the proposed Nutrient Management Plan for a 4,000 cow expansion? As the potential for groundwater contamination and dry wells looms on the horizon, just remember Lafayette County residents: Welcome to Corporate America.
Town of Kendall
Cigs and Earth Day
Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the 50th anniversary Surgeon General’s Report on Tobacco.
While the report focuses on the effects of tobacco products on the human body, tobacco products take an equally destructive toll on the environment. The harm tobacco takes on our planet is especially talking about since April 22 is Earth Day.
Cigarettes are the number one most littered item in the U.S. In fact, according to Keep America Beautiful, cigarette butts make up 25 to 50 percent of all collected litter from roads and streets.
Tobacco’s environmental impact goes beyond litter though. In a 2009 cleanup effort, more than 3 billion cigarette and cigarette filters were removed internationally from beaches, 1.3 million from the U.S. alone. In addition to that, the 2008 reports from the American Association of Poison Control Centers received 7,310 reports of potentially toxic exposures to tobacco products among children younger than 6 in the U.S.
This really hits home for me, as I have three children 6 and younger. It’s bad enough what tobacco products are doing to their users, and bystanders, they’re also harming the earth. I want my kids to be able to swim at a beach and play at parks without being concerned that tobacco products are seeping toxins into these places. As a member of the Southwest Alliance for Tobacco Prevention, this information provides some extra motivation to provide education to adults and youth.
If you’re ready to make an impact or just learn more about local tobacco prevention and control efforts in grant county, visit the Southwest Alliance for Tobacco Prevention’s Facebook page. Tobacco users who are ready to quit should call the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW for free help.
Program assistant, Southwest Alliance for Tobacco Prevention
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