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Health / Diseases

News 989 views last update:Jun 27, 2007

UK: fear for MRSA infection through pigs

Research by the British Soil Association into MRSA problems in e.g. the Netherlands, has triggered concerns about the status of the UK herd.

The study reveals that the potentially dangerous Methicillin-resistant Staphyloserious aureus (MRSA) bacteria could already present in British pig herds.


MRSA is already a high-profile, persistent problem in many UK hospitals. Now a new strain of MRSA has developed amongst intensively farmed pigs, chickens and other livestock on the continent.


Transfer to farmers
Farm-animal MRSA has already transferred to farmers, farm-workers and their families in the Netherlands, causing serious health impacts. 40% of Dutch pigs and 50% of pig farmers have been found to carry farm-animal MRSA.


In the Netherlands, farm-animal MRSA has been found in 20% of pork, 21% of chicken and 3% of beef on sale to the public.


In the Netherlands, Belgium and Canada, initiatives have been started for further research into the matter.


Not found in the UK
The bacteria has not yet been discovered in either UK livestock or meat products, but neither the government nor the Food Standards Agency are carrying out any surveys of the most likely carriers, live pigs, chickens and imported meat.


Dutch scientists and government officials blame this new strain of MRSA in farm animals on the high levels of antibiotics used in intensive livestock farming.


New monster
Richard Young, Soil Association policy adviser said, "This new type of MRSA is spreading like wildfire across Europe, and we know it is transferring from farm animals to humans - with serious health impacts. Concerned scientists have referred to this as 'a new monster'.


"Fortunately, it has not yet been found in UK livestock or imported meat, but then neither the government nor the Food Standards Agency are looking for it in live animals or meat."


Related news items:
• Belgium will start own MRSA research (23 March 2007)
• More research needed into MRSA bacteria (14 March 2007)
• Canada, Belgium: MRSA research in pigs (12 January 2007)
• New research into MRSA bacteria (3 October 2006)


Related websites:
• British Soil Association


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