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Soil Association Highlights Superbug Threat

by 5m Editor
22 July 2009, at 11:34am

UK - The Soil Association is supporting calls from NPA to stop the importation of weaners.

The Association is particularly concerned the pigs would introduce a new strain of MRSA into the country, which would have economic consequences for pig producers and make it much more difficult to control the problem of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in the community.

Nearly 40 per cent of Dutch pigs are reported to have MRSA ST398, which can be transmitted to humans. MRSA has become widespread in pigs in many other European countries, including Belgium. This has been encouraged by the fact that the Netherlands exports about six million live pigs a year, says the Soil Association:

"The United Kingdom is fortunate in that it does not currently import significant numbers of live pigs from the continent, and its pig herd may therefore be free of MRSA.

"Government scientists completed MRSA testing of British pigs last December, but government has so far failed to release the results, despite requests from the Soil Association."

Research commissioned by the Belgian government has shown 44 per cent of Belgian pigs and 38 per cent of Belgian pig farmers are already carriers of MRSA. In Britain, just three cases of MRSA ST398 are known to have occurred in humans, but in the Netherlands the strain already accounts for about 30 per cent of all human MRSA infections.