Thursday, 26 August 2010

MRSA From Pigs to People: The Emergence of a New Superbug

A decade long battle is very much over. It is now widely known that British pigs are sick and still being stuffed with antibiotics, after a decade of ridiculous babyish cover-ups and cover stories.

There are risks to humans, especially, ironically, to the veterinarians.

Science is still trying to come to terms with the obvious: things are bad and getting worse.

The only dispute is how bad, and how much worse.

In the meantime, Britain’s vets carry on prescribing vast quantities of antibiotics into pigs that they insist are healthy. They then export the problem.

They remain protected and encouraged by a hopelessly corrupt and useless British State Veterinary Service, too scared to admit what they have done.

Some know they face prosecution before international courts and have frozen in the face of the horror of guilt.

We can all understand the terror that they must feel.

It would be easier to sympathise when they admit what they have done and start putting things right.

Science 27 August 2010
Vol. 329. no. 5995, pp. 1010 - 1011

DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5995.1010

From Pigs to People: The Emergence of a New Superbug

Dan Ferber

The discovery of a novel strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) able to jump from livestock to humans has sparked a multicountry effort to see how dangerous it might be. So far, the worst fears about the strain have not been realized. It did jump from pigs to people, scientists determined through gumshoe detective work. And it has caused serious disease—although rarely—among farmers and veterinarians who work with pigs and other livestock, and their families, although most of them carry the microbe harmlessly in their noses. But it doesn't appear to be readily transmissible between humans, so the chance of a broad community epidemic seems low. However, MRSA readily mixes and matches genes with other bacteria that make it more virulent, more transmissible, and harder to treat—and this newly emerged strain could take that route too.