Saturday, 26 November 2011

Animal Antibiotics feeding Human Resistance

Australia is on the trail of antibiotic resistance from livestock.

In Britain? A cross between hoping it will go away if it is ignored and smothered with positive PR  and veterinarians hopelessly arguing the toss and spinning furiously.

What they miss is that the hospitals are looking for someone to blame for a deteriorating situation and the vets are the obvious candidate.

Quite aside from the rights and wrongs, the British vets are massively outnumbered by one of the largest organisations in the world. The National Health Service people also have more and better scientists and resources.

If the veterinarians were in the right, they would be in trouble. But as they are wrong, they stand no chance and are merely prolonging the agony and compounding the guilt.

A decade of cover-up is too long.

Full article here, audio interview here

Health expert calls for investigation of antibiotics in foodchain

Updated November 25, 2011 19:27:00

An emergency medicine expert has called for an investigation into the potential health threat of animals being fed antibiotics to promote growth. Dr Thomas Gottlieb the President of the Australian Society for Infectious Diseases is worried about how much of the drugs are entering the food chain.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Germans count and curb livestock antibiotics

The Germans are tightening up on antibiotic usage in livestock. The following is a brief summary of a US government translation. The full report is available via the url.

Data collection, publication and transparency are of course issues yet to come to the surface in Britain.

The lack of anything sensible  is one of the strongest indicators of civil service cover-ups. It will become a major issue. The black hole in Britain will become ever more obvious as others increase

DEFRA, the British agricultural ministry, have delayed so long in publishing appalling figures, that the government of the day will get publicly thrashed, when they finally have to admit how bad things are in Britain and how long the veterinary cover-up has been going on.

They will then have to do something about purging and restructuring the various government veterinary services. It will save a fortune anyway. Veterinary fiascos, such as BSE (Mad Cow) and, Foot and Mouth, have cost Britain billions.

Full report (US translation) here

The German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) announced a  package of measures to have a better control on the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry.

The way data is collected and processed will be changed to make the use of antibiotics more  transparent and to develop ways to fight resistance. Data about the use of antibiotics in poultry  production will now also be collected.


Thursday, 17 November 2011

British veterinarians welcome antibiotic curbs

They British veterinarians had to welcome the report, to do otherwise would be suicidal.

The figure of 25,000 people dying each year is sobering.

Where do we go from here?

The pigs are still sick and massive quantities of antibiotics are still used.

The full Farmers Guardian report is  here

Vets welcome Brussels antimicrobial resistance plan

17 November 2011 | By Alistair Driver

VETS have welcomed plans by the European Commission to address the problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in human and animal medicine....

...the seriousness of the problem, the Commission said about 25,000 patients were dying each year in the EU from infections caused by drug resistant bacteria, adding €1.5 billion to healthcare costs.

The 12-point action plan reflects the growing belief that high usage of antibiotics in farming, primarily the pig, poultry and dairy sectors, is contributing significantly to the problem.

Pressure is building to tackle the problem...

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Porcine Circovirus, the Dam is Bursting

We finally get an admission that tightly packed pigs in insanitary conditions get more circovirus.

The writer could have told them that, and did, years ago.

But the veterinarians insisted that copious expensive antibiotics to control co-infections were the way to go.

So, we got rich vets, sick pigs and antibiotic resistant disease leaving the farms and entering the hospitals, kept quiet by multiple cover-ups. 

The dam is finally bursting. 

It is, perhaps, the biggest scandal of the twenty-first century.

Environment vital in countering PMWS

11 November 2011

Malcolm Flanagan
Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in the United Kingdom have discovered that farms with the lowest incidence of post weaning multi-systemic syndrome (PMWS) had clean enriched environments with the maximum amount of space possible for pigs. Professor Dirk Werling of the RVC said ...

Porcine Circovirus - Co-existence of Multiple Strains

We have always worried about porcine circovirus and the implications for human health. The treatment of bacterial co-infections to circoviruses with antibiotics gives rise to antibiotic resistant pathogens that impact on human health.

Had the truth been told in Britain in 1999-2001, things would be very different now.

If the truth was told now, things might yet be very different in the future

Co-existence of multiple strains of porcine circovirus type 2 in the same pig from China

Shao-Lun Zhai, Sheng-Nan Chen, Zu-Zhang Wei, Jian-Wu Zhang, Lv Huang, Tao Lin, Cheng Yue, Duo-Liang Ran,Shi-Shan Yuan, Wen-Kang Wei and Jin-Xue Long
For all author emails, please log on.
Virology Journal 2011, 8:517 doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-517
Published: 13 November 2011

Abstract (provisional)

Pigs are often co-infected by different viral strains from the same virus. Up to now, there are few reports about co-existence of different porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) strains in China. The aim of this study was to evaluate it in Chinese swine herds. 118 PCV2 positive DNAs isolated from diseased pigs identified by classic PCR were re-detected using a modified differential PCR assay. The results indicated that co-existence rates of PCV2 were 32.2 % (38/118) in diseased pigs and 0 % (0/41) in asymptomatic pigs. Four PCV2 complete genomes were cloned from two co-infected samples and their nucleotide (nt) identities were 95%-97.3%. The phylogenetic analysis showed that four PCV2 strains were divided into different genotypes, PCV2a, PCV2b, PCV2d and PCV2e, respectively. In addition, co-existence were not detected in 41 serum samples from healthy pigs but PCV2 single infection (31.7%, 13/41) existed. These data revealed that the co-existence of different strains of PCV2 might contribute to the development of more severe clinical symptoms for pigs. This is the first report confirming the co-existence of different PCV2 strains in Chinese swine herds. Meanwhile, this study could help us to understand new infection and prevalence forms of PCV2 clinically.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Foston Pig Farm - the human risks understated

The writer is neither a member nor a supporter of the Soil Association; however, all these points are right as far as they go.

They come from a longer media release celebrating the Soil Association's apparent success in getting the proposed new Foston Mega Pig Farm stopped by the local council.

They fail to mention that “organic” pigs are now just as likely to be a problem, as are rare breeds, and in many cases they understate both the seriousness of the problem and its longevity.

Britain’s pigs have been ill for more than a decade and illness has been spreading into the hospitals for years. The vets, in particular, have been carrying it from farm to farm and from the farm into the community.

We had also noted the Health Protection Agency underplaying the potential risks of Foston, and similar pig farms, by misquoting American research here

The genie of zoonotic superbugs is out of the bottle in Britain and probably will not be forced back in our lifetime. We will have to learn to live, if we, can without the huge benefits of antibiotics, not just for animals but for people too.

The full Soil Association media release may be read here

Key points of this evidence include:
  • pig farming accounts for approximately 60% of all UK farm antibiotic use
  • research shows that the levels of disease and the use of antibiotics both increase as pig farms get bigger
  • larger herd size is linked with higher levels of many diseases in pigs, including some that can cause illness in people
  • for certain bacteria, such as salmonella and campylobacter, most of the antibiotic resistance in human infections comes from farm-animal antibiotic use
  • resistance to antibiotics can transfer between both animals and humans and this occurs more frequently, and with far greater ease, than was previously believed
  • a number of very serious new types of antibiotic resistance have developed in recent years and several of these are increasing in farm animals
  • C. difficile ‘superbug’ bacteria which has been found in hospitals is a growing problem in pigs worldwide, and the latest research shows that at least one strain of the pathogen is now present in British pigs
  • there is growing evidence that C. difficile may be spreading from pig farms to humans through the environment
  • there is concern about the risk of Pig MRSA spreading to the UK; it is now well established that people working with MRSA positive pigs, such as farmers, veterinarians, and even their family members, are at risk of colonisation and infection - there have also been a number of very serious cases and deaths
  • there are real concerns that unless antibiotics are used much more sparingly we will soon find ourselves facing a range of serious diseases in humans and animals that can no longer be treated effectively.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

MRSA st398 in German pigs

A new report reveals that MRSA st398 is widespread on German pig farms, especially the large operations fattening pigs.

In Continental Europe, the usual term is "MRSA cc398" : in the English speaking countries "MRSA st398" is the more usual description.

Britain continues to fail to admit that the strain is present in British pigs and, in the past, has actually denied that British pigs are carrying a form of MRSA known to be dangerous to humans.

The full text of the German research may be found here

Factors associated with the occurrence of MRSA CC398 in herds of fattening pigs in Germany

Published:10 November 2011

Abstract (provisional)


The purpose of this study was to investigate the prevalence of MRSA in herds of fattening pigs in different regions of Germany, and to determine factors associated with the occurrence of this pathogen...


Overall, 152 of 290 (52%) fattening pig farms tested positive for MRSA...
 ... Identified spa-types were all associated with clonal complex CC398... 
...Logistic regression revealed herd size (large farms OR: 5.4; CI: 2.7-11.2; p<0.05), and production type (wean-to-finish OR: 4.0; CI: 1.6-10.4; p<0.05) as risk factors associated with a positive MRSA finding in fattening pig operations.


MRSA CC398 is widely distributed among herds of fattening pigs in Germany. Farm management plays a crucial role in the dissemination of MRSA with herd size, and production type representing potential major indicators.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

MRSA st398 found in American meat

It has just been announced that MRSA st398 - so called "piggy MRSA" (also termed MRSA cc398 on the continent of Europe) has been found in American meat. It had previous been found in Canadian meat, but not in the USA.
Britain seems to be the only major country with pig production in the Northern Hemisphere that continues to claim that its pigs and pork are MRSA free.
It might be fairer to say "have not withdrawn their claim that British pigs and pork are MRSA free." It has not been repeated for a couple of years, but equally no admission or correction has been made.
MRSA st398 has been found, in children, in Scotland some years ago, but nothing in pigs or pork.
What you won't look for properly, you won't find.
Defra, Britain's infamous agriculture ministry, will not be able to hold out for much longer. They will have to provide data for Britain and an explanation for the long delay.
Tara Smith's explanation of the meaning of the American research is here, with the promise of more to come. Be sure to read the complete blog entry in full here
This is a very important research for Britain too.

MRSA found in Iowa meat

Posted on: November 9, 2011 9:00 AM, by Tara C. Smith
I've blogged previously on a few U.S. studies which investigated methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus in raw meat products (including chicken, beef, turkey, and pork). This isn't just a casual observation as one who eats food--I follow this area closely as we also have done our own pair of food sampling investigations here in Iowa, and will be doing a much larger, USDA-funded investigation of the issue over the next 5 years...
...Why am I rehashing all of this? We have a new paper out examining S. aureus in Iowa meats--and did find for the first time MRSA ST398, as well as MRSA USA300 and MSSA strains including both presumptive "human" and "animal" types. This was just a pilot study and numbers are still fairly small, but enough to say that yes, this is here in the heart of flyover country as well as in the other areas already examined.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Foston Pig Farm - Superbug risks - Discrepancy


A few days ago in our post (here) celebrating the long delayed admission by the British government of the risks to public health from antibiotic resistance arising from pig farms, we quoted from the Health Protection Agency:

“Recent research has found that those living up to 150m downwind of an intensive swine [pig] farming installation could be at risk of adverse human health effects associated with exposure to multi- drug resistant organisms.”

The context is the planning process for a new large indoor pig farm at Foston in Derbyshire opposed by the Soil Association and local residents.

The planning process revealed that the company behind the proposal was testing for MRSA in their pigs, even though the government claims British pigs are clear of MRSA st398.

When we checked back to the American source of the original research, quoted by the Health Protection Agency, which has been available for nearly six years, we found what seems to be an interesting discrepancy:

Bacterial concentrations with multiple antibiotic resistances or multidrug resistance were recovered inside and outside to (at least) 150 m downwind of this facility at higher percentages than upwind. Bacterial concentrations with multiple antibiotic resistances were found within and downwind of the facility even after subtherapeutic antibiotics were discontinued. This could pose a potential human health effect for those who work within or live in close proximity to these facilities. (report here)

In short, the Texans say the the risk is at least 150 m (downwind), the HPA version limits the risk to 150 m.

Both the discrepancy and the reasons are important to the planning process and the health of local residents, including a prison, next door to the proposed new farm. Prisons in the United States have become centres for the spread of MRSA.

This is public health: this matters.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Antibiotic Resistance risk from pigs to humans admitted by British Government vets


British veterinary civil servants in the Health Protection Agency are finally admitting public risk from antibiotic resistance arising in pig farms.

“Recent research has found that those living up to 150m downwind of an intensive swine [pig] farming installation could be at risk of adverse human health effects associated with exposure to multi- drug resistant organisms.”

It does not seem much, but it is a massive about turn. It is hardly “recent research.”

The reality is that the risks to humans have been both known and realised for years, and denied by the veterinary establishment, who also claimed that Britain was free of porcine MRSA.

The Soil Association has already established and publicised the fact that Midland Pig Producers test pigs for MRSA, a problem that has never been admitted, and actually denied, in British pigs.

Now the fur will fly. They will all want to be first out the door with whatever they can take with them for a comfortable retirement.

It is now up to us to make sure there is a full public enquiry. 

And, of course,  that nothing like this ever happens again.

Full Soil Association Media Release here

Health Protection Agency confirms human health concerns over proposed mega pig farm in Derbyshire

31 October 2011

In what may be a fatal blow to the Midland Pig Producers’ planning application, the Health Protection Agency have raised strong concerns about the potential risk to public health of the proposed ‘mega pig farm’ for South Derbyshire.

Following thousands of letters from the public, Derbyshire County Council asked the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to submit evidence regarding the human health impacts of the proposed Foston ‘mega’ Pig farm, an indoor pig factory for 2,500 mother pigs (sows) and around 20,000 piglets, with 1,000 pigs going for slaughter each week.
Expert advice given by the HPA confirms the detailed scientific review of evidence from around the world, submitted by the Soil Association last year.

The Soil Association objected to the proposal on the grounds that the extremely high number of pigs housed in one location may increase the level of disease on the holding and over time that may pose a threat to the health of the local community.

A statement by the HPA echoed these concerns and asserted that “recent research has found that those living up to 150m downwind of an intensive swine farming installation could be at risk of adverse human health effects associated with exposure to multi- drug resistant organisms.” ...