MRSA has been found in pig herds in more than two-thirds of countries within the European Union (EU), new research shows.
In the first EU-wide survey, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found the antibiotic-resistant bug in 17 out of 24 member states.
Spain and Germany had the highest incidence, with over 40 per cent of pig holdings testing positive for MRSA.
The most common MRSA strain found is considered by EFSA to be ‘an occupational health risk for farmers, veterinarians and their families’. It causes skin infections, pneumonia and bone infections.
Whilst the survey did not find any evidence of MRSA in UK pig holdings, the Soil Association has warned that MRSA could still be present in British pigs and that the test used was inadequate.
Another country declared MRSA-free by the survey, Switzerland, did detect the bacteria through its own national testing.
The Soil Association is calling for the UK to carry out its own national survey of bacterial infections in pigs.
‘MRSA testing is simple and relatively inexpensive and there can be no excuse for not introducing a comprehensive UK testing program in pigs, poultry, cattle and horses, based on the tried and tested use of nasal swabs,’ said Soil Association Policy Adviser Richard Young.
A spokesperson for Defra said:
‘Evidence does not suggest that the presence of MRSA in pig herds is a public health risk.’
The Dawn of the domestic superbug
The huge popularity of antibacterial household cleaners is encouraging superbugs,
allergies, immune-system failure and dangerous environmental pollution. It’s time to
stop cleaning ourselves to death.
Pig Business: the film they tried to ban
Tracy Worcester’s ‘Pig Business’, a groundbreaking expose of US industrial pig farming conglomerate Smithfield Foods, has met with repeated attempts at censorship by the company’s lawyers.
Sick as a pig
Another strain of MRSA is emerging from the factory farms of Northern Europe, and it is linked to the insatiable demand for cheap meat on our plates. The Ecologist Film Unit investigates
BLT Sandwich: The Big Lifestyle Trade Off
Is it worse than Mc Donalds? The BLT sandwich is an icon, the ultimate symbol of convenience culture. Tesco alone sells 5 million a year. This is what the £1.80 you pay for your BLT buys...
FDA supports ban on growth antibiotics in livestock
The US Food and Drug Administration has said that antibiotics should not be administered to livestock except to prevent or treat disease