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Potentially deadly superbugs can be spread by flies from farms to people living miles away, scientists warned last night.
Researchers have found disturbing evidence that houseflies and cockroaches carry antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria normally found in the guts of livestock.
In tests, the same strains living in the intestines of pigs were discovered in insects flying and crawling around the farm. Flies can travel for miles, spreading bacteria each time they land on food.
Organic farmers said the study highlighted the dangers of overusing antibiotics on farms and called for an urgent inquiry into the links between livestock and superbugs.
Although drug resistant bacteria such as MRSA are usually regarded as problems for hospitals, there is increasing evidence linking superbugs to farms.
Until the mid 2000s, farmers traditionally used antibiotics to speed up weight gain in pigs, chickens and other livestock. After they were banned as growth promoters by the EU, their use has fallen slightly in the UK.