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MRSA superbug found in supermarket pork raises alarm over farming risks

Andre, a farm worker in Denmark, who has the infection, which has developed into spots on his skin.

The discovery on UK shelves of pork contaminated with a livestock strain of MRSA prompts calls to curb misuse of antibiotics in intensive farming. Pork sold by several leading British supermarkets has been found to be contaminated with a strain of the superbug MRSA that is linked to the overuse of powerful antibiotics on factory farms, a Guardian investigation has revealed. Livestock-associated MRSA CC398, which originates in animals, has been found in pork products sold in Sainsbury’s, Asda, the Co-operative and Tesco. Of the 100 packets of pork chops, bacon and gammon tested by the Guardian, nine – eight Danish and one Irish – were found to have been infected with CC398. CC398 in meat, which poses little risk to the British public, can be transmitted by touching infected meat products or coming into contact with contaminated livestock or people, although it can be killed through cooking. Continue Reading →

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What is the superbug LA-MRSA CC398 and why is it spreading on farms?

Use of antibiotics in intensive farming has risen as pigs and other livestock are kept in ever more crowded conditions.

The threat of MRSA in hospitals has generated an urgent response, but an MRSA variant is spreading from farm livestock to supermarket meat unchecked.  

MRSA is best known in the UK for causing hospital-acquired infections – and many deaths. There has been little human to human transmission of the superbug in the community, but it is particularly dangerous in hospitals because it can colonise wounds easily, especially where patients’ immunity is low. It has been associated with poor hygiene in hospitals, but the main factor behind the spread of MRSA has been the over-prescription of antibiotics, which has allowed a rather mundane germ that lives on many of our bodies without causing any problems to become far more dangerous to human health. CC398, a new variant of MRSA, emerged in animals and is found in intensively farmed animals (primarily pigs, but also cows and chickens), from where it can be transmitted to humans. Continue Reading →

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130 cases of fines to farmers for heavy use of antibiotics

Less than 1 percent of farmers have in the course of a year been fined, compared with the estimated level of 5-10 percent of farmers to be fined, when  the Danish Parliament in the autumn 2010 decided to minimize the use of antibiotics to pigs by introducing a yellow scheme with fines to farmers for heavy use of antibiotics. 

See the discussion in the Danish parliament on the decision of yellow scheme. All together since the introduction of yellow scheme there have been 130 cases of fines giving to farmers according to documents which Investigative Reporting Denmark has obtained, with names of all the farmers getting a fine. Excel-file with all data on 130 cases of yellow scheme

Original documents showing fines to farmers:

Yellow scheme in 2011

Yellow scheme in 2012

Yellow scheme in 2013

Yellow scheme in 2014
According to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration only 0.3 to 0.8 pct of the farms received a yellow scheme in the years from 2011-2014, during which the system has been in effect. The documents also show only 2 farmers instead of an estimated 200 received an increased fine and surveillance and no one received a red scheme or had their number of pigs reduced. Authorities claim that this result is because of the success of the system. Continue Reading →

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MRSA-testresult kept secret for more than one month

If one pig gets sick, the whole flock gets medicine.

Access to documents from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration shows the authorities are hiding activities in the MRSA-case. It also shows that officials let farmers refuse to participate in test.  









The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration claims that it has not shared test-result with the farmers’ association, Landbrug & Fødevarer. //

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Documents from the case shows a different story:


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The authority claims the test results have not been validated. In the documents it is made clear that a farm is regarded MRSA-positive if one out of five samples is positive. Continue Reading →

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New rules in Denmark to fight dangerous swine-bacteria: Banning visits to infected farms – but farms remain clandestine

Nick Hækkerup, Socialdemokratiet. Forsvarsminister.

At least every second Danish swine farm is probably infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to new investigations. Ministers demand total sterilization of 500 farms for breeding pigs and ban public visits to infected farms – but keep the names of these farms secret. – The Danish Food Administration is in the process of analyzing tests from 200 farms. The results will be available later this year. But I can say now that we expect that 50 percent or more will be tested positive. I have therefore asked for a reassessment of the risks, said Danish Minister of Food and Agriculture Dan Jørgensen (S) in an open meeting in the Agriculture Committee under the Danish Parliament Wednesday 27th of August. Continue Reading →

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Infected with MRSA: I feel like a leper

Direct contact with infected animals has the highest risk of transmitting the MRSA-infection to humans.

Kenneth Sørensen talks about what it’s like to be infected with the dangerous pig bacteria MRSA – and to be resistant to various kinds of antibiotics. “They cannot operate someone like you at Frederikshavn Hospital.” This is what a nurse told  33-year-old Kenneth Sørensen when he a few months ago had a hernia. Kenneth Sørensen. (Photo: Michael Bo Rasmussen)

– The message from the nurse was disheartening. And frustrating. I wanted to cry. Continue Reading →

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The cost of antibiotic resistance: 25,000 deaths per year, and counting

Sir Alexander Fleming, (6 August 1881 – 11 March 1955) was a Scottish biologist, pharmacologist and botanist. His best-known discovery is the antibiotic substance penicillin in 1928.

European authorities have no records on the new spread of resistance germs from pigs to humans. Scientists say the total death toll for resistant antibiotics is outdated and too low. The news of four deaths in Denmark caused by infections from livestock associated (LA) resistant germs has not reached European authorities, except through media reports. The European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC, based in Solna, Sweden keeps no record of infections from different strains of resistant bacteria. Dominique L. Monnet, Head of the Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare-Associated Infections Programme at ECDC, explains in a written comment:
”No EU survey on human infections due to LA-MRSA CC398 is currently planned by ECDC. Continue Reading →

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Germs can take shelter behind EU-law

Nine out of ten pigs for the slaughterhouse in Denmark is now infected with MRSA. The pig-MRSA trnasferred to humans is a growing problem.

The European Union has so far only ”recommendations” and ”support” to offer against resistant germs. A ”stamping out” strategy Norwegian style is ruled out in the EU. The Commission, the EU’s governmental body and the only institution empowered to propose legislation, has so far taken a cautious stand on the threat of antibiotic resistance. An action plan was put forward in 2011 in what is called a communication (COM/2011/748). EU-ministers in the Council adopted its conclusive points the year after. None of the 12 identified key actions sanctioned by the Council go further than to ”introduce recommendations”, “promote efforts”, “co-ordinate research” and the like; all different expressions of soft law. Continue Reading →

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Here are the heavy users of antibiotics in pig-production – expert warns high use cause more dangerous MRSA

Around 1500-2000 Danish pigfarms is now infected with MRSA, is the estimation. This is a heavy growth over the last two years despite the effort to stop the transmission of MRSA.

Denmark is witnessing an explosion of the MRSA epidemic on its pig farms. People are in need of the facts on the risk of infection; which pig farms should one stay away from? We can now get the first answer. The Ministry of Agriculture has for more than two years refused to share its knowledge of the infected pig farms with the Danes. Despite orders from the Danish Ombudsman, the Ministry has still not published its lists of MRSA-infected farms.

However, through a department in the Ministry, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, DVFA (Fødevarestyrelsen in Danish), we have finally managed to obtain a list of 137 pig farms that most probably contain pig-MRSA bacteria. Authorities in Denmark and other countries have for several years pointed at the dangerous connection between the use of antibiotics in livestock production and the development of resistent bacteria. Continue Reading →

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