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.
– The message from the nurse was disheartening. And frustrating. I wanted to cry. You feel despair. You feel like a leper. A second-class citizen, says Kenneth Sørensen.
Angry with a colleague who quit after being infected with pig-MRSA
Kenneth Sørensen has worked almost 15 years with pigs and has liked his job. In 2010 he was hired as manager of a pig farm in Northern Jutland with 650 sows.
But Kenneth Sørensen would not abandon his job. He trusted the hygiene nurse, Tinna Urth, who had been at the workplace to tell about MRSA, and he also read a lot about the matter on the internet.
– I was assured that MRSA is not dangerous. I was defiant and angry with my Romanian colleague when he stopped. I thought that it is a smear campaign against agriculture. At that time we were not worried, says Kenneth Sørensen.
Dentist in the space suit with the visor made him nervous
But a visit to the dentist made Kenneth Sørensen nervous. He had an appointment to get treated for a toothache, but when he told he was infected with MRSA, he was turned away. Instead the infected man got a new appointment as the day’s last patient. Afterwards the clinic had to be disinfected.
– The dentist was in space suit. It struck me that highly skilled health personnel refuse to accept me. I felt nervous. But again, we were assured by the hygiene nurse who said that health care people just had to get to know MRSA, says Kenneth Sørensen.
During birth the couple was isolated in a delivery room
His girlfriend was pregnant. She was also infected with MRSA. When she arrived for a scanning, a nurse waited at the door and led the couple directly to a an isolated room.
– A nurse said, “Whew, MRSA”. And there was no shaking of hands, recalls Kenneth Sørensen.
– The staff was in space suits with masks and visors, and wore gloves. We thought “shit”. MRSA is just not what we’ve been told. Now we do not believe anymore that it’s just the health care system that is wrong, says Kenneth Sørensen, who became father to a boy.
Breakdown after the message: Your MRSA is resistant to everything
In January this year, a sow ran into Kenneth Sørensen. The work injury developed into a hernia. He was operated at Hjørring Hospital, where there are facilities to protect they against infection.
In July he got an abscess. His doctor took a swab of the wound. Three days later, he was told that his MRSA bacteria are multi-resistant.
– The doctor says there is nothing that can be done. They have no options to treat me. I am shocked. I go tp pieces, says Kenneth Sørensen.
A few days later the health center found the result actually was two years old. It came from a swab back in 2012, when he first tested positive for MRSA.
Fear of infecting family and friends with MRSA
In the end of July 2014, Kenneth Sørensen got the result of the new test. There was MRSA in his sores.
Kenneth Sørensen has since the spring of 2012 tested positive for MRSA in four out of four tests. He said his tests for MRSA show that he at least is resistant to seven kinds of antibiotics. His girlfriend has since 2012 tested positive for MRSA in 10 out of 12 samples. She is a teacher.
– We cannot visit sick people at the hospital, since we are infected with MRSA. For months we have been unable to visit a very sick person in our close circle of friends. We are afraid that we may be in a situation where we cannot visit family members or be with our own child. It’s one thing that you are ill. But the idea of making others ill is terrible, says Kenneth Sørensen.
Kenneth Sørensen’s abscess came first in treatment after a week. The health center knew no antibiotics that would work on him. It had to be from the microbiology department at Aalborg Hospital. They have a kind of antibiotics, to which Kenneth Sørensen’s MRSA bacteria are resistant.
Getting away from pig farming
The operator has now decided to leave the pig industry. Confidence in the industry is gone. Kenneth Sørensen will not work in an industry with such a high risk of infection. He will be retrained, but so far he does not know for what.
– I bought a small cottage and it has put me in debt. I hope I can make it financially, says Kenneth Sørensen.
He hopes that by leaving pig industry he within six months can get rid of MRSA.
This story has been published at Fagbladet/3F 8th of August and has been reprinted here with permission of the author, Morten Halsskov.
Kenneth Sørensen has been tested for MRSA four times – and all four times he had MRSA. The tests show that his MRSA strain was resistant to seven different kinds of antibiotics.
16:02. 2012: (nose) Resistant to: penicillin, ampicillin, meticilin, dicloxacillin.
12:03. 2013: (nose) Resistant to: penicillin, ampicillin, methicillin, dicloxacillin, oxacillin.
25.03. 2014: (throat) Resistant to: penicillin, methicillin, dicloxacillin, erythromycin, roxitromycin.
14.07. 2014: (wounds) Resistant to: penicillin, methicillin, dicloxacillin.