28 February 2015 | Online since 2003



Government urged to act as MRSA found in British pig


The government is being called on to carry out a full MRSA survey of the UK pig industry to determine how widespread the superbug is after the first-ever case in a British pig was found in Northern Ireland.

The Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics is also calling for immediate restrictions to be introduced on the farm use of antibiotics classified as ‘critically important’ in human medicine in order to reduce the spread of the bacteria.

Alison Craig, Campaign Manager for the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics said: “The finding of MRSA in a UK pig has to kick-start the government into finally taking action against the overuse of antibiotics in farming. In the Netherlands, they have cut total farm antibiotic use by 63% in the last six years, whereas in the UK, use has actually gone up during that time.”

The overuse on farms of critically important antibiotics which select for livestock-associated MRSA (LA-MRSA) means that the bacteria are likely to spread rapidly, as has occurred in other countries where LA-MRSA emerged.

LA-MRSA was first found in pigs in the Netherlands in 2004, and has since become widespread in intensively farmed pigs, poultry and veal calves in many European countries and in North America but this is the first time a case has been reported in pigs in the UK. LA-MRSA has also been found in British poultry and in bulk milk from dairy cattle, but it is not known how common the bacteria are in UK farm animals because of a lack of surveys.

LA-MRSA can spread to humans and cause serious infections including blood poisoning, pneumonia and heart and bone infections. People directly in contact with affected farm animals, including farmers and vets, are most at risk. Their family members are also at increased risk.

Derek Butler, Chairman of MRSA Action UK and who has lost three family members to MRSA, said: “This is no surprise to MRSA Action UK. We have to understand that bacteria know no boundaries between countries, animals or people. We are sitting on a time bomb waiting to explode. Sooner or later bacteria will transfer from animals to humans causing infections.”

However, the Danish government recently announced that four deaths from LA-MRSA had occurred, and none of the patients had any known connection to farming, suggesting that the bacteria can also spread more widely [8]. Similarly, a Dutch hospital study published last month found that LA-MRSA was spreading to people without direct contact with farm animals, particularly when hospitals were located in areas with high densities of pig farms. Human LA-MRSA infections have already occurred in Scotland and in England where the patients were not directly connected to farming.

Cóilín Nunan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Alliance, said “Studies have shown that organic and antibiotic-free pigs have much less MRSA than intensively farm animals raised with routine antibiotic use. Data from the Netherlands also shows that their cuts in farm antibiotic use have resulted in fewer human cases of livestock-associated MRSA, providing clear evidence that reducing farm antibiotic use is beneficial for human health.”

Defra and the Department of Health have said that LA-MRSA is not a significant threat to human health. However, recent German research found that some sub-strains of LA-MRSA are more virulent than others, and the scientists warned that the ‘huge reservoir’ of LA-MRSA in livestock and the constant transmission to humans meant that the bacteria pose ‘a serious threat to human health’ as they have ample opportunity to adapt to infecting humans.

Download



Comments


No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment

To post comment without approval login or register

Display name

Please enter your name

Email (optional)
Comment

Please enter your comment

Post Comment

Your comment submitted successfully.Please wait for admin approval.

Some error on your process.Please try one more time.



Jobs


20 February 2015
Production Manager - Dairy
This post has become available as a result of the Farm Manager reducing their direct farm staff management time to develop ot...

9 February 2015
Band 5 Audiologist
The post will primarily be based at the Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals sites along with their associated outreach clinics......

11 February 2015
Apprenticeship in Horticulture
Apprenticeships include Amenity Horticulture, Agriculture, Land based Service Engineering, Environmental Conservation, Equine...

16 February 2015
Electrical Design Engineer
Waste water treatment, brewing and distilling, dairies, food, chemical process, anaerobic digestion, biogas or similar. Elect...

11 February 2015
Graduate Industry Analyst - Pigs and Poultry
A degree or equivalent preferably in a Science subject (especially but not exclusively Environmental Sciences, Applied Biolog...




Top stories you may have missed
2 February 2015 | Arable
Is EU membership damaging UK farming?

Is EU membership damaging UK farming?

Membership of the EU is damaging the British farming industry, according to...


29 January 2015 | Machinery and Equipment
Drones 'rapidly changing' agriculture

Drones 'rapidly changing' agriculture

BASIS has launched an accreditation for pilots of Unmanned Aerial Systems (...


23 January 2015 | Arable
UK wheat yields have potential to double

UK wheat yields have potential to double

UK wheat yields have theoretical potential to more than double over the nex...


23 January 2015 | Machinery and Equipment
Crowds flock to LAMMA 2015

Crowds flock to LAMMA 2015

Britain’s farmers flocked to Peterborough for the first day of LAMMA’15 to ...


22 January 2015 | Cattle
Don't blame supermarkets for milk crisis...

Don't blame supermarkets for milk crisis...

The crisis in the dairy industry is not the fault of supermarkets, accordin...


16 January 2015 | CLA
Families affected by HS2 face 'major wor...

Families affected by HS2 face 'major wor...

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer visited three rural businesses in Cheshi...


16 January 2015 | Machinery and Equipment
John Deere unveil new 6R tractor range

John Deere unveil new 6R tractor range

Spearheading the John Deere range of mid-size tractors from Mannheim, the n...


14 January 2015 | Animal Health
Monthly TB checks more effective than ba...

Monthly TB checks more effective than ba...

Regular testing for bovine TB could significantly reduce the number of infe...


12 January 2015 | News
Government regulations hampering UK agri...

Government regulations hampering UK agri...

Single-issue policy-making threatens to hamper, not help, the progress of U...


8 January 2015 | Cattle
2015: The year ahead for the beef market

2015: The year ahead for the beef market

2014 has been a “rocky old year” for the beef industry but better prices ar...