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 New MRSA superbug strain found in UK milk supply

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Posts : 7972
Join date : 2012-05-29
Location : Manchester UK

PostSubject: New MRSA superbug strain found in UK milk supply    Thu 27 Dec 2012, 21:28

New MRSA superbug strain found in UK milk supply

Research reveals that antibiotic-resistant organisms are gaining a hold on dairy industry

A new strain of MRSA has been found in British milk, indicating that
the superbug is spreading through the livestock population and poses a
growing threat to human health.

The new strain, MRSA ST398, has been identified in seven samples of bulk milk from five different farms in England.
discovery, from tests on 1,500 samples, indicates that
antibiotic-resistant organisms are gaining an increasing hold in the
dairy industry.
The disclosure comes amid growing concern over the
use of modern antibiotics on British farms, driven by price pressure
imposed by the big supermarket chains. Intensive farming with thousands
of animals raised in cramped conditions means infections spread faster
and the need for antibiotics is consequently greater.
classes of antibiotics rated as “critically important to human medicine”
by the World Health Organisation – cephalosporins, fluoroquinolones and
macrolides – have increased in use in the animal population by
eightfold in the last decade.
The more antibiotics are used, the greater the likelihood that antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA, will evolve.
say there is no risk of MRSA infection to consumers of milk or dairy
products so long as the milk is pasteurised. The risk comes from
farmworkers, vets and abattoir workers, who may become infected through
contact with livestock and transmit the bug to others.
discovery was made by scientists from Cambridge University who first
identified MRSA in milk in 2011. They say the latest finding of a
different strain is worrying.
Mark Holmes, of the department of
veterinary medicine, who led the study, published in Eurosurveillance,
said: “This is definitely a worsening situation. In 2011 when we first
found MRSA in farm animals, the Department of Environment, Food and
Rural Affairs [Defra] initially didn’t believe it. They said we don’t
have MRSA in the dairy industry in this country.”
“Now we
definitely have MRSA in livestock. What is curious is that it has turned
up in dairy cows when in other countries on the Continent it is
principally in pigs. Could it be in pigs or poultry in this country? We
don’t know.”
The MRSA superbug can cause serious infections in
humans which are difficult to treat, require stronger antibiotics, and
take longer to resolve. Human cases of infection with the new strain
have been found in Scotland and northern England according to Defra, but
no details are available.
Dr Holmes said supermarket pressure on
farmers to hold down prices was leading to the overuse of antibiotics to
prevent cattle getting mastitis, an infection of the udder, that might
interrupt the milk supply.
“If farmers were not screwed into the
ground by the supermarkets and allowed to get a fair price for their
milk they would be able to use fewer antibiotics,” he said.
sense tells us that anything we can do to reduce use of antibiotics
will reduce the growth of resistant bugs. We want to wean our farmers
off antibiotics and the only way we can do that is with better
Vets in Norway and Denmark had much more limited prescribing powers than in the UK, he added.

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