Saturday, 23 April 2011

MRSA in American meat

This particular comment about the Danish experience by Dr Scott Hurd has received wide coverage in the USA and abroad as part of the furore following tests suggesting that one quarter of American meat carries antibiotic resistant disease.

Let’s take the definitions, figures and facts un-argued, and just deal with the interpretation.

Let's look at what he had to say, the full article is here,  and comment after.

New study adds to concerns about animal-to-human resistance to antibiotics

Evidence suggests that routine use of antibiotics on animal farms is leading to antibiotic resistance in humans. A look at what's known and what's being done.


….Denmark, the world's largest pork exporter, has made changes with good results. From 1992 to 2008, antibiotic use in pig-rearing was cut by more than half (as measured per kilogram of pig). During that same period, overall production increased, animal growth rates improved and death rates didn't change, according to a 2010 report in the American Journal of Veterinary Research.

But Dr. Scott Hurd, a trained veterinarian and researcher at Iowa State University in Ames, says industry numbers show that only 13% of antibiotics used in food animal farming are for growth promotion and adds that preventive use is necessary in certain situations. "It's always based on previous experience, when you know the animals are going to get sick," he says. He notes that in Denmark, the amount of antibiotics used for treatment has doubled, indicating that a lot more animals are getting sick.

Hurd adds that changing practice in the name of public health would be counterproductive. "We lose a lot of our tools to keep animals healthy," he says. "Even marginally ill animals are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella and Campylobacter, so you have the potential to decrease public health."…


It was ironic that this should appear in California.

If you are dealing with future events, by their very nature you can’t be sure of outcomes. It is logical and sensible to assume that some “preventative” use of antibiotics was actually unnecessary.

So the condition “…when you know the animals are going to get sick," is obviously not always applicable and antibiotics are sometimes used when not needed.

What the unnecessary proportion may be is a matter for conjecture, but since the benefits of antibiotics are additional growth in healthy animals, it is reasonable to assume that it is high. Judgement in cases of doubt will naturally veer towards what is, from a profit and individual pig point of view, beneficial.

Nobody doubts that the use of antibiotics for growth promotion prevented some illness anyway, so it is entirely logical to assume that the ban on growth promotion would lead to a rise in therapeutic use. The methods of administering medicines to a herd of pigs does tend to make a blunderbuss approach inevitable anyway: the healthy get treated with the ailing.

Danish pigs are sick. Dutch scientists flew to California and told the world about MRSA in pigs in 2003, even before peer review, desperate to ring the alarm balls.

The writer helped publicise their disclosures in Britain and suffered a barrage of organised libellous abuse.

The world did not listen: they did not want to hear.  Now pigs all over the world are desperately sick with viral disease and resulting co-infections resistant to some antibiotics.

Of course antibiotic use for therapeutic use has risen in Denmark, even though the total use has declined very sharply: a success, not a failure.

The Dutch disclosure and Danish actions took a lot of guts and integrity, the last for a country that lives off the back of a pig.

There are good reasons to believe that they spoke out when others, with even sicker pigs, stayed silent.

We should listen to the Danes, not draw the wrong conclusions from their efforts to tackle a problem ignored, covered-up or underplayed by the rest. They seem to be doing pretty well given the circumstances.

Excessive antibiotic use in animals, (what is excessive use?) is responsible for much human misery and many deaths. It has to be tackled.

Friday, 22 April 2011

MRSA in pigs - worse than reported - Finland

We have always doubted the results of the EU imposed survey for MRSA in pigs in 2009-2010, especially in Britain.

Even to a non-scientist, barn dust samples hardly seemed adequate. With Britain’s Ministry’s record of faking results, the completely negative results in Britain were, frankly, incredible.

Britain’s government veterinarians had a better reason not to find MRSA than the others: self-preservation.

That's why we have been calling for independent audited testing on a matter that may have serious public health risks 

But there was no reason to suspect that the countries finding and reporting MRSA might be wildly under-reporting MRSA in their pigs, for whatever reason.

Just how bad is it out there?

Finland has just come clean with 30 to 40 times more MRSA in their pigs than previously admitted and they even give us a nice presentation with the following conclusion.

Full presentation here

A nationwide survey on MRSA in pigs in Finland

Lasse Nuotio, Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira
Helsinki, Finland

The sensitivity of the approach to detect farms with a minority of animals colonized by MRSA is not known

The sampling was not satisfactorily random in either category

Nevertheless, the true prevalence of MRSA positive pig farms may well have been 15 –20% in 2009 –2010

What we would at least like to know:-

are there common sources

what is the typical within-farm prevalence of MRSA indifferent types of farms and in different age groups

how long does MRSA persist in different types of farms

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

MRSA found in British pets

Anxious to take the spotlight off pigs, as expected, Defra, Britain's infamous agricultural ministry, are rolling out plan B in the Daily Mail with the long planned involvement of the Canadians.

What a mistake, publishing the minutes of British and Canadian discussions! We knew what was in their minds.

Pets are to take the blame for MRSA in humans and, inevitably, will be abandoned.

Anyway, this must be the last ditch for the vets. They risk a big split amongst themselves.

The thousands of, mostly female, pet vets are not going to be impressed with the mainly male livestock orientated establishment's cover-ups.

They are going to get a damn sight madder if they take MRSA home to the kids.

Daily Mail report in full here

MRSA superbugs found on pets by TIM UTTON, Daily Mail

Wednesday, Apr 13 2011

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...

...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

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...

Thursday, 7 April 2011

MRSA in livestock, Dutch guard their hospitals

Extracts from the "Instructions to Patients" leaflet issued by Erasmus MC – that’s the Rotterdam University Hospital.

We apparently don’t need or take these precautions in Britain.

Our world renowned government veterinarians tell us British livestock is MRSA free.

Yes that’s right, that’s the people that brought the world BSE (Mad Cow) and mishandled the 2001 Foot and Mouth Epidemic even delaying a General Election in the resulting chaos.

They claim British livestock is MRSA free.

Amongst many other disasters, they later let FMD escape from their premises at Pirbright infecting a number of farms: then denied responsibility for many months.

They tell us we do not have MRSA in our livestock.

Would you buy a used car from these people?

Wake up England!

Instructions to Patients leaflet in full here

...People infected with MRSA are known as carriers. This information is intended for patients who
are MRSA carriers.
NB: Where the text says “you”, please read “you and your child” where appropriate...

Who is at high risk of carrying MRSA?

...MRSA is more common in foreign hospitals than in Dutch hospitals. If you identify with the
following points, please make this known before attending our hospital:
- you have been admitted to a foreign hospital
- you have visited an outpatients' clinic or accident & emergency department at a foreign
- your child has been adopted from abroad.

Patients carrying MRSA
In the Netherlands, it has been noted that people working in certain professions are more
likely to be MRSA carriers. If you belong to one of the following professions, please make this
known before attending our hospital:
- pig farmers
- beef calf farmers
- veterinary surgeons that come into contact with pigs or beef calves
- people working in slaughter houses for pigs and beef calves
- biotechnical workers that come into contact with pigs
- pig or beef calf handlers...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Veterinarians sued over MRSA infection

The first vet faces the music over MRSA.

Vets have legal responsibilities to animals, to customers, to society and to their own employees.

That includes looking after their employees properly. MRSA is no joke and the vets should not be underplaying the risks, not least in advising their clients on their responsibilities to their employees.

The vets will be insured and in the longer run that will mean that their insurers will make sure they toe the line.

If they don't, they won’t get professional liability insurance and won’t be able to practice.

This will give British vets some well-deserved sleepless nights. Defra’s vets have claimed that British pigs don’t have MRSA?

Would they care to repeat the claim?

Sometimes reform takes the long route.

Full report here

Vets in River Oaks sued over MRSA infection

A League City veterinary assistant is suing a River Oaks veterinary group after, she says, she contracted a serious disease while working with a sick animal.

League City resident Lori Marsh filed a lawsuit on April 4 in the Harris County District Court against Gulf Coast Veterinary Internists of River Oaks, alleging negligence.

Marsh says that she contracted a dangerous infection, known as MRSA, because her employee, Gulf Coast Veterinary Internists did not warn her that she would be caring for an MRSA-infected animal. Marsh claims that contracting this disease while on the job has physically impaired her for the rest of her life.

Marsh is seeking all damages to which she is entitled and court costs. She is being represented in the case by Houston attorney C. Michael Davis.

Harris County District Court Case No. 2011-20670.

This is a report on a civil lawsuit filed at the Harris County Courthouse. The details in this report come from an original complaint filed by a plaintiff. Please note, a complaint represents an accusation by a private individual, not the government. It is not an indication of guilt, and it only represents one side of the story.