Thursday, 31 March 2011

Baths and duckings for pig veterinarians - April Fooling?

Is this April 1st?

Nearly right!

Could you imagine this even a decade ago? The mind boggles, on-farm baths for pig veterinarians and visitors.

However, it does illuminate the role that veterinarians now play in spreading disease.

The Dutch realise that they can no longer use vast quantities of antibiotics to cope with the consequences.

That nettle has not yet been grasped in Britain.

Perhaps it is an April 1st joke and they published a day early.

Full "Pig Progress" report here

Biosecurity on pig farms: Bath is more effective than a shower

31 Mar 2011

Taking a bath of about 15 minutes using a mild disinfection product, would be better for biosecurity on pig farms than taking a shower, the Dutch agricultural magazine Boerderij reports.

The daily quotes research from the Swine Research Farm (VIC) in Sterksel, the Netherlands...

... First conclusions yield that a SPF health status is maintained substantially longer when visitors are required to take a bath. This would include getting a ducking as that way also the hairs can be disinfected...

...“Taking a quick shower provides a fake sense of security...

...It was added that preferably, visitors ought to be kept out of the pig houses. This has become more important now the Netherlands has stepped up its targets to reduce the amounts of used antibiotics...

... In ten pig farms, however, baths will be installed and results will be monitored.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

MSSA st398 "Pig MSSA" found in childcare worker Ohio


However, MSSA st398 in a childcare worker cannot be dismissed easily, especially when it occurs  in pig farming country.

The connection of MSSA st398 and MRSA st398 to pigs may be becoming less noticeable as it moves into the community undetected through lack of adequate surveillance, not least in Britain.

No doubt some of our less scrupulous veterinarians are working, hoping and praying for just that.

They doubtless will get their chance to explain their actions and inaction over the past years before the international courts.

The title and content of this particular comment has been amended after publication to reflect that the strain found was S. aureus susceptible to methicillin and was therefore MSSA. Not all ST398 strains are MRSA. More information is now available from one of the authors of the study - Tara C. Smith here

Full US government report here

Volume 17, Number 4–April 2011


Livestock-associated Staphylococcus aureus in Childcare Worker

Erin D. Moritz and Tara C. Smith

Author affiliation: University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA

To the Editor:

Carriage of Staphylococcus aureus sequence type (ST) 398 has primarily been reported as occurring among persons in contact with livestock, including swine and cattle (1,2). This association has given rise to the characterization of this strain as livestock associated (3). However, ST398 colonization or infection in persons lacking identified livestock-associated risk factors have been reported (4,5). We report ST398 colonization in a childcare worker in Iowa, USA...

...The colonized employee was a 24-year-old woman who had worked at the facility for ≈5 years. She reported a history of melanoma but was not currently taking any chemotherapy drugs and had not been hospitalized in the previous 12 months. She reported having a family member who worked in a hospital and had direct contact with patients, but the employee lived alone and responded negatively to questions about whether she or immediate family members had had contact with animals or worked in a processing plant.

ST398 may be transmitted from livestock to community members and then from person to person. It can potentially be transmitted in food; several studies have documented ST398 in raw meats (7,8), and we identified this strain in retail meat products in Iowa (T.C. Smith et al., unpub. data). Secondary transmission of ST398 from colonized persons to contacts has also been suggested, but the few publications reporting this suggest that ST398 seems to be less transmissible by this route than are common human strains (9).

We cannot be sure whether either of these routes played a role in acquisition of ST398 by this employee. Although no other tested persons in this childcare facility were found to carry ST398, only 24 (40%) of the 60 employees and 8 (4.8%) of the 168 children participated, suggesting the possibility of a reservoir in the facility among those who were not tested. Of the 24 employees who participated, 2 reported occupational contact with any animals, 2 reported contact with swine, and 3 reported contact with cattle. However, no participant reported having animals other than cats or dogs on their property. It is possible that >1 sampled employee may have been a transient ST398 carrier but negative at the time of our sampling.

Reports of ST398 in persons who had no direct contact with livestock in the United States are rare (10). To provide a better understanding of the epidemiology of this novel strain, further examination of the emergence of this isolate in community settings and on farms is needed.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Devastating pig disease still spreading - circovirus - New Zealand

The beginnings and progress of this particular circovirus outbreak, for seven years or more, have been recorded on the UK newsgroup - fully searchable through Google Groups.

There were two incursions of PMWS. The strains in North and South Islands were different.

Like the British veterinary establishment, the closely associated NZlanders preferred IIIIM (imaginary illegal imported infected meat) and smallholders, rather than veterinary indiscipline and greed, as an explanation  for all outbreaks of everything.

As a result of closing the wrong stable doors, the mess gets worse.

You will notice that the NZ government  are now trying to de-emphasise IIIIM and border controls. They know that IIIIM does not stand scrutiny as a source.

They have, as usual, had some superbug outbreaks in humans in New Zealand. Pigs ill with circovirus quickly become a human health risk, not least antibiotic resistant diseases such as MRSA caused by the use of excessive antibiotics to control co-infection.

Full report from the New Zealand Herald here (the date is incorrect it should be March 24.)

Devastating pig disease still spreading - NZ Pork

8:17 PM Saturday Mar 26, 2011

A devastating pig disease which broke out in the North Island in 2003 and crossed to the South Island in 2006 is still spreading, farmers say.

Post-weaning multi-systemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) does not affect humans but attacks young pigs, causing emaciation, diarrhoea and breathing problems, and can kill up to 40 per cent of a piggery's weaners in its early stages.

Found worldwide, apart from Australia, the disease inflicts a high death rate on pigs aged six to 12 weeks, and continuing illness for survivors, including infertility.

"PMWS is still infecting new farms ... and even some with very stringent biosecurity practices," New Zealand Pork chief executive Sam McIvor told NZPA...

...When the disease was first found on Ted and Irene Graham's Orini piggery, 24km east of Huntly in 2003, the industry argued that the outbreak occurred only after an unidentified infectious agent was fed to pigs in uncooked pork...

...The disease later "exploded" across farms which kept pigs outdoors: "Spread, we believe, by gulls, sparrows, flies, an errant truck driver and weaner pig movements before it was recognised," Mr McIvor told the primary production select committee probing the Biosecurity Law Reform Bill.

"In the South Island, we now have about 80 per cent of the herds with it and the initial mortality was 18 per cent of pigs on those farms."...
..."I haven't put a figure on the depression, marriage break-ups, business failures, two deaths and a severe heart attack that were believed to be related to the issue," he told MPs...

...But Mr McIvor told the committee that research had shown that a virus that cause a worse disease, incurable porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome, could arrive in the meat of imported animals.

Though the virus did not have human health implications, it could be transmitted to the New Zealand pig herd with devastating effects on animal health, and pig farmers had been at odds with MAF since 2006, when the ministry proposed a health import standard for pigmeats.

NZ Pork also had some "fundamental concerns" around sections of the biosecurity bill, including a shift of focus away from trying to manage risks offshore and at the border.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

MRSA in farms and communities

EU studies on the increasing threat of MRSA in livestock and the methods of transmission from farm to farm look set to bring little comfort to the veterinary industry.

Not only do vets cause MRSA by prescription of antibiotics, but they are also being investigated for spreading it from farm to farm, to other vets at the innumerable international conferences and even to their own families.

The very last words in this report will bring a cold guilty feeling to many a veterinarian used to basking in the favourable publicity generated by a powerful public relation's machine.

But this is not James Herriot and "All Creatures Great and Small" - this is real life where hard business practices rule and veterinary fortunes are made from prescribing vast quantities of antibiotics to livestock, despite the known risks.

“spreading from common professional contacts.”

has the last word on a gathering public health crisis.

It has long been obvious from Continental and North American studies that vets were both catching and carrying MRSA, make them a logical route for the problem to move from continent to continent and from farm to farm.

All vets should be tested for MRSA and some will have to be quarantined.

Farm assurance audits will have to be stopped too. All these unnecessary expensive visitors from farm to farm can spread disease dangerous to humans.

This is not like other livestock diseases impacting animals only. This is an international public health crisis.

Full report here

Bacteria strains set up house in farms and communities

Bacterial infections present many treatment challenges. These become even more complicated when new strains arise in new, unconfined locations. European researchers are working on strategies to combat these emerging strains.

The incidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has until recently been limited to hospitals (HA-MRSA). Now, increasing reports of community and farm-acquired MRSA (CA- and FA-MRSA) are changing the way MRSA is being studied. Researchers have yet to find an explanation for this development, and there are no remedies currently available to contain the spread.

The EU-funded project 'Control of community-acquired MRSA: rationale and development of counteractions' (Concord) is working to explain this phenomenon and facilitate the development of effective strategies against the new emergence. ...

...To date, the necessary tools for analysing microarray data have been put in place, and a validation of the microarray for expression studies has been performed. CA-MRSA and FA-MRSA isolates have been collected from humans and farm animals in 14 EU countries and typed. Results showed a high genetic diversity among CA-MRSA, and CA-MRSA belonging to FA-MRSA lineages have been discovered.

A discrete-time, stochastic mathematical model has been developed to study the dynamics of FA-MRSA transmission between pig farms. This is important for managing infection control and can give further insights into MRSA, thus offering important advantages for human and veterinary clinical practice. The model concentrates on three mechanisms of how MRSA are colonised on farms: by animals bought from MRSA-positive farms, local spreading by infected wildlife and spreading from common professional contacts.


Information Source: Result from the EU funded FP7-HEALTH programme


Thursday, 17 March 2011

Dutch cut antibiotics in livestock by 12 per cent.

Once again the Dutch are to be congratulated for reducing the use of antibiotics in livestock.

As usual, they put Britain's hopeless government veterinary services to shame.

Britain, almost alone in the EU, claims to have no problems with antibiotic use on farms and no MRSA in its pigs.

They are so sure they have no problems that facts on usage are unnecessary.

The public are not to be informed about the biggest scandal of the 21st century. Exageration?

Remember, wait and see.

Mechanical translation in full here


Antibiotic use in livestock production in 2010 decreased by 12%

Compared to 2009 in 2010 antibiotic use in livestock farming in the Netherlands fell by over 12%.  This is evident from the sales of the companies involved in the FIDIN, the association of Veterinary Pharmaceuticals in the Netherlands are connected.  Facing a decline in antibiotic use, the number of farm animals remained the same.  The downward trend in antibiotic use in livestock and move definitively in line with the alleged reduction target of 20% in 2011. ....

Thursday, 10 March 2011

MRSA st398 - 105 Danes infected last year

A long bitter eleven year battle will soon be over for the writer.

The resulting scandal will rock the world, it will certainly shake Britain.

There are many veterinarians moving through farms spreading MRSA, the disease they caused by misuse of antibiotics - even spreading to their families.

Some veterinarians are going to have to be quarantined urgently.

The Danes are to be congratulated for their openness.

Full report from Maskinbladet in Danish and English including a useful graph can be found here

Thursday 10th March

Svinebrug 7. Pig 7th 2011 - 10:32

105 were infected with pig-MRSA in 2010

Health Haarder answering a question from parliament that 105 people were infected with LA-MRSA - ie agriculture-associated MRSA - in 2010.

To a question from Christian H. Hansen of the party focus on how many people are employed in agriculture, which are infected with LA-MRSA corresponds Health Haarder:

- I can say that in 2010 there were 1050 new registered cases of MRSA-infected people in Denmark, which both include infection with human-MRSA and pig-MRSA. 105 of these are new cases of CC 398 MRSA (pig-MRSA).

It is therefore the final number - 105 infected with pig-MRSA, which is relevant for agriculture. ( (See graph above).

Figures subject

The minister added that the figures should be interpreted with caution, as it reflects the number of positive among those investigated and therefore can not be taken as representing the total number of infected and did not develop because the method of examination vary.

For example, in the years 2008 and 2010 were special projects that persons associated with pig herds have been studied In 2008 a number of participants in a pig Congress investigated, and in 2010 were people who worked in 4 herds and 150 veterinarians examined. These special investigations led to each of the years 2008 and 2010 found 20 people who probably would not have been found and thus declared, explaining Haarder.

Moreover, only in half of the period was a mandatory reporting system where all new cases of proven infection with human and pig-MRSA in humans must be reported. This was introduced in 2006.

It should also be mentioned that not all of those infected with pig-MRSA are infected directly by working with pigs, but can be contacts for one, working with pigs, which is typically a family member.

However, an increase

Despite the above, the Health Protection Agency's current assessment that there is a real increase in the prevalence of pig-MRSA in 2010. ..

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

House of Commons examines Antibiotics in Livestock

Canada, not Britain, of course.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation tested some meat and the Canadian House of Commons gets to discuss the results.

Britain's BBC could do the same.

Government veterinarians in the UK tell us that British livestock does not have MRSA, because they have not found any, so there is nothing for Britain’s MPs to discuss.

Until then the MPs can carry on discussing their expenses undisturbed by reality or any duty to protect public health.

Mind you if and when MRSA is found, they will turn on the vets with added ferocity.

A number of farming groups and supermarkets in Britain will now be testing in lieu of government action, if they find, and more importantly admit, a problem, the situation for the veterinarians is dire indeed.

Full Article here

Antibiotics use in animals examined by MPs

Committee examining whether use of antibiotics in livestock affects human resistance to life-saving drugs

CBC News

Posted: Mar 8, 2011 2:08 PM ET  Last Updated: Mar 8, 2011 2:08 PM ET

Antibiotic resistance is getting another look Tuesday with a parliamentary committee on health examining antibiotic use in livestock.

The House of Commons health committee will hear witnesses from industry and health advocacy groups about whether giving antibiotics to the animals Canadians eat makes us more resistant to the drugs used to treat our health problems.

A special investigation by CBC's Marketplace tested 100 raw chicken samples from Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

All of the bacteria uncovered during the Marketplace sampling were resistant to at least one antibiotic. Some of the bacteria found were resistant to eight different types of antibiotics.

"This is the most worrisome study I've seen of its kind," said Rick Smith, the head of Environmental Defence, a consumer advocacy group...

Saturday, 5 March 2011

New porcine circovirus found in American pigs - APE

News of yet another circovirus in pigs, found in Kansas, is now reaching the media.

It is possible to trace a vague reference to APE being found in Northern Ireland in veterinary sources during 2010. That really matters. The only health testing station for British live export pigs was in Northern Ireland and closed down by constant circovirus outbreaks years ago.

The discovery of yet another killer circovirus underlines just how serious circovirus in pigs is – and the significance of the British cover-up of an epidemic in 1999 and since.

That initial outbreak of circovirus was recorded in veterinary circles, including by the OIE, but otherwise the situation in Britain did not reach the lay media. Later, a couple of years later, though, the past president of the OIE (United Nations) did complain about Britain’s behaviour over the outbreak. He maintained it should have been made internationally notifiable at Britain's request. Circovirus is still not notifiable.

Circovirus is not just a problem for pig farming. The repercussions spread far and wide, not least in the increasing antibiotic resistance in drugs used to restore us to health from illness and, indeed, even alive.

KSU report here

A new disease syndrome associated with porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2)

Ada G. Cino-Ozuna1, Steven Henry2, Richard Hesse1, Jerome C. Nietfeld1, Jianfa Bai1, H. Morgan Scott1, Raymond R.R. Rowland1*

1. Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506
2. Abilene Animal Hospital, Abilene KS 67410

Porcine circovirus-associated disease (PCVAD) encompasses a group of progressive wasting syndromes linked to porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2). In late 2009, “well doer” nursery and younger finisher pigs from PCV2-vaccinated herds in the U.S. Midwest experienced peracute syndrome, called acute pulmonary edema (APE), with mortality reaching 20% in some affected groups. Clinical signs included the rapid onset of respiratory distress followed by death.

Often, pigs were found dead with no previous indication of disease signs. The clinical cases were submitted to the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (KSVDL) as part of a routine infectious disease investigation by a private veterinarian. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and immunohistochemistry (IHC) were used to assess PCV2 infection. All APE pigs were positive for PCV2 DNA in sera and tissues with some Ct values as low as seven. A common microscopic lesion was fibrinoid necrosis of the blood vessel wall with surrounding regions showing evidence of pulmonary edema. In most of the affected pigs, there was diffuse lymphoid depletion, and a few pigs possessed rhinitis.

In conclusion, this peculiar presentation of PCV2 infection in nursery and young finisher pigs is a likely consequence of the failure to pass maternally-derived antibodies (MDA) to the newborns, which is due to the declined levels of antibody in breeding damns vaccinated at 6 to 8 weeks of age, making newborns susceptible to PCV2 infection prior to vaccination.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

MRSA superbugs found on British pets

It seems amazing that Britain’s government vets can test pets for MRSA but neglect to test livestock or meat and packaging on the shelves of the supermarkets.

Actually, it is not amazing at all: they have long intended to try to blame pets to try to save veterinary skins.

The minutes of transatlantic meetings show that Defra were trying to encourage the North American vets to join them in pushing the cover story that people give MRSA to their pets.

It will backfire, of course, who wants an MRSA carrying vet near their pets?

Quite aside from the public reaction and abandoned pets, there will be “civil war” between the more powerful livestock and government vets and the more numerous small animal vets, mostly female, having to cope with the pet owners.

There are some things you cannot get away with – and this is one of them. The British government vets must be desperate to try it. They are desperate: very desperate.

Full Daily Mail article here

MRSA superbugs found on pets

by TIM UTTON, Daily Mail

Superbug: the MRSA has been found on household pets

The deadly superbug sweeping hospitals has been found in British pets, experts have revealed.

Evidence that MRSA - which kills 5,000 patients a year - can cross the species barrier raises the prospect of animals infecting their owners - and vice versa.

The Health Protection Agency says it found the superbug in 12 pets after analysing samples from cats, dogs and a rabbit.

Angela Kearns, head of the agency's staphylococcus laboratory, said: 'We have observed MRSA in some domestic animals.

'The cases came from across Britain so we know it's not one particular cluster.

'We need to know if there is a lot of it out there and what the risks are. We don't know yet whether animals have acquired the infection from humans or vice versa.

'There really is a big question mark over the whole area.'

Hospitals are struggling to defeat MRSA - methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus - because it is resistant to penicillin...

...Britain has the worst MRSA record in Europe, according to official figures released a week ago.

Patients are 40 times more likely to catch it here than in Denmark or the Netherlands...

...Although it is the first time MRSA has been found in British animals, it has already been reported overseas.

Dr Donald Low, a microbiologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, has found it in horses, cats, dogs and guinea pigs.

'This is a warning to Britain about MRSA,' he said. 'I've looked at the case of a horse, a thoroughbred, which ended up infecting its owner.'

Horses are particularly at risk, he said, because they are costly creatures and vets tend to use expensive antibiotics on them.

The British Veterinary Association urged pet owners not to panic and not to abandon their animals.

Dr Alistair Gibson, spokesman, said: 'We don't want to see a massive scare that will make people get rid of their pets...