At least 8 employees from the Pilgrim's Pride Hatchery are on a leave of absence right now.
Several of them confirmed to Today's THV they have a form of community acquired or CA-MRSA. It's an infection spread by sharing clothing, equipment, and touching.
The hatchery is separate from the poultry plant and the food is not at risk, but employee have been sick on and off for about a year. They tell us the company is not doing enough to stop the infection.
"Everyone in the hatchery has had it, but none of their family members has had this and that tells you right there it's at the hatchery and they need to do a thorough cleaning," Vickie Smith says.
Smith is speaking on behalf of friends who are currently employed at the Batesville Pilgrim's Pride hatchery. Together she says all three of them have had CA-MRSA 23-times.
Smith adds, "They complain about the pain. If they bump it they almost cry because it's so painful and they say it feels like their heart is beating with the mosquito like sore."
"There are 32 people in the building and thirty have had it multiple times." This employee wants to remain anonymous. He says he had CA-MRSA in February and April.
He continues, "You go in everyday and you don't know if you're going to get to work the next day. There have been people take off five weeks at a time and that's five weeks without any income."
Pilgrim's Pride spokesperson Ray Atkinson says, "We discovered the first cases a year ago. Since then we've added hand washing stations and sterilized suits for employees. Unfortunately, we're continuing to see a number of cases and we've hired experts in MRSA research and we're cleaning the facility weekly."
Another worker who wishes to remain anonymous says many employees are not satisfied. "My response is when they find MRSA in a public school or public place what do they do there. Close and clean them and why should this be any different?"
An employee says, "It gets to the point you don't want to pick up your kids because you're scared. It's upsetting. I'd love to keep working there, but it just seems like the company needs to step up and do the thorough cleaning through the building and take care of the problem." To learn more about CA-MRSA click on the link under the picture.
CA-MRSA infection is caused by bacteria often called "staph."
It's a strain of staph that's resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it.