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News 2457 views last update:Jun 30, 2011

Updated: UK organic lobby group calls for action due to Salmonella

The Soil Association, a British organisation supporting organic farming, is calling on the UK government to take action to limit the spread of a relatively new type of salmonella, known as 'monophasic salmonella typhimurium', which is passing from pigs to humans.

Quoting the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the association writes in a press release that the strain has abilities to cause infections and 'a particularly high attack rate in children and old people', leading to 'an unusually high rate of hospitalisation'. It is also highly resistant to antibiotics, limiting treatment options.
 
The organisation goes on to write that "several different strains have already emerged and caused numerous infections in humans and at least one death." It quotes professor John Trelfall from the British Health Protection Agency, who has acknowledged that it appears 'to be associated with pigs and pig products'. German scientists have found evidence it is being transmitted from pigs to humans 'along the food chain', and called for interventions at a farm level to prevent human infection.
 
Review
The association wants a panel of experts to undertake a review of the evidence and it also calls on Caroline Spelman, secretary of state for the environment, to intervene.
 
Exact statistics on the number of cases in the UK are not available, the Soil Association writes. It adds in the press release that "the European Food Safety Authority has described its incidence as ‘epidemic’. The available evidence strongly suggests that it is increasing in pigs and humans in the UK. There have also been cases in British cattle."
 
Resistant to antibiotics
The association quoted Dr Rob Davies, from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, who believes that monophasic Salmonella typhimurium may have ‘the ability to be shed in large numbers in faeces compared with other strains’. According to Dr Davies, monophasic Salmonella typhimurium is one of several salmonella strains to have evolved in pigs.
 
The association also quotes 'a very recently published government study', which had found that "28% of British pigs tested positive for salmonella. 92% of these showed resistance to antibiotics with 67% being multiresistant."
 

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