MRSA On Rise At Region 8 Plant, Workers Say Not Enough Being Done

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT)- Both of the Pilgrim's Pride plant workers Region 8 news talked to Wednesday say they've had some form of CA-MRSA at least twice. They both say they think the company wasn't proactive enough in stopping the spread of the infection.

"Everybody wants it to be somebody else's problem and it hasn't been until the last week that they've taken any responsibility for it," said a plant worker who wants to remain anonymous.

He says he wants to lift the veil on a problem he says has been plaguing the Batesville Pilgrim's Pride plant for a year.

He says on any given week, as many as five out of 30 hatcherie workers will be out on medical leave because of some form of staph infection.

One of his fellow workers, who also wishes anonymity, says the same thing and adds the company's now-intesive efforts at containment of the bacteria are long overdue.

"I just think that right now they're just taking it serious because they have to. Right now there's like 5 and 6 people out a week with it."

Region 8 news asked Pilgrim's Pride how many workers are out with MRSA now. They say five are on medical leave, however, they won't confirm or deny they're MRSA-related cases.

The plant says after the first couple of cases were discovered a year ago, there was widespread education for employees on proper handwashing techniques and all high contact areas were sanitized.

The company says experts from out of state with a background in infectious disease have been brought in to hopefully rid the workspace of contamination.

"Unfortunately despite all intensive efforts we've continued to see a number of cases inside the Batesville hatcherie," said Ray Atkinson, Director of Corporate Communications of Pilgrim's Price. "So, we have now re-doubled our efforts and we've implemented a number of measures to help reduce the likelihood of infection."

Those measures at prevention include more handwashing stations and the use of protective clothing, including gloves, for workers.

But, for these two plant workers, they say it all offers little reassurance.

"I think people have quit and have gotten other jobs."

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