Investigations

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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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Jan Guillou: Uncover the real lives of muslims and minorities

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We live in a period where democracy might not survive. The main task for journalists is to investigate how minorities live and think. And then tell it. Jan Guillou, born 1944, has a background as a famous investigative reporter in Sweden exposing the intelligence service in 1973 and spending one year in prison for that story. Today, he’s a famous writer, known for his 13 novels on the spy, Carl Hamilton, starting in 1986, four novels on the High Middle Ages and now for making a family chronicle to describe developments in the 20th century. Continue Reading →

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Pig-farmers use of antibiotics continued to grow in 2014

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Despite the threat from the dangerous pig-bacteria MRSA CC398, the Danish pig-farmers use more and more antibiotics in their daily production. This is the result of our analysis on totally new data concerning medicine use. We publish the detailed list of pig-farmers use of antibiotics during the last six years. Antibiotics are commonly used in commercial swine production for disease treatment, disease prevention and control, and growth promotion. (Photo from Wikipedia)

 

In 2010 the use was at the highest level. Continue Reading →

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Danish journalists sentenced to fine for releasing names of infected farms – they will try to appeal the case

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Two journalists, Kjeld Hansen and Nils Mulvad, released a story in October 2010 about the spread of pig-to-human infection, which subsequently led to four deaths. Lawyer Tyge Trier (left) with the two journalists Nils Mulvad (middle) and Kjeld Hansen (right) in the district court of Aarhus 6 of May. The verdict came 22 of May 2014. Photo: Lone Hougaard. The story from 2010 violated the Data Protection Act, according to the district court in Aarhus. Continue Reading →

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Danish pig farmers and health authorities don’t warn employees and visitors on dangerous bacteria – clear rules needed

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

Danish authorities don’t check which pig farms are infected. Most pig farmers and people working on pig farms are not tested to check if they carry the dangerous bacteria. Visitors don’t know if a farm is infected.  
 
 
According to rules established by the Danish labor inspection, pig farmers must inform their employees if MRSA is demonstrated in their pig herds. Nobody knows to what extent this actually takes place, and there are no demands to inform previous employees if MRSA is demonstrated later on, says Hans Jørn Kolmos, professor of microbiology and chief physician at Odense University Hospital. Continue Reading →

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Furs for billions with a deathly price tag

The spread of MRSA in Danish mink can be related to the use of offal from slaughterhouses as mink fodder. The waste contains lungs and intestines which is carriers of MRSA in pigs.

When nouveau riche millionaires in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing shop for fashionable fur, there is a hidden item on the bill for the beautiful Danish mink coats. Cold winters make mink fur more popular in China, Russia and South Korea. See photos of fasion and mink by Danish Fur. It is the price of the serious health threat that the majority of the 1,600 Danish mink factories have become. The bill is paid neither by the Chinese nor by the mink industry itself. Continue Reading →

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MRSA out of control: Hazardous multidrug-resistant bacteria jumps from mink to humans

Captive mink in Denmark being bred for their fur creates fear for spreading MRSA to people.

In 2009 the first human case of MRSA-infection by mink was registered in Denmark. Since 2011, twenty-four more cases have been identified, creating fears that the drug-resistant bacteria, normally transferred through pigs, are now also easily transferred from mink to people. Humans infected with MRSA, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, can cause serious outbreaks on the skin, respiratory tract and the urinary tract. Infections with the bacteria, resistant to antibiotics and therefore very difficult to fight, can last for years. The symptoms of infection depend on the part of the body infected. Continue Reading →

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Coverage of stop of GMO corn in Europe

Investigative Reporting Denmark on the 29th of May 2013 published the story on Monsanto halting production of genetically modified corn in all of Europe, except Spain, Portugal and Czech Republic. Since then there has been a lot of coverage of this round the World. Two days after Investigative Reporting Denmark broke the story, the German daily “Taz” did a story with a German angle, quoting a Monsanto-spokesman from Germany on the same message. That story was quoted by Reuters the same day and the story then went round the World. Here are some examples with links to the coverage:

Continue Reading →

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