Wednesday, 26 December 2012

MRSA st398 in British milk - questions asked.

It is indeed eyebrow raising.

Maryn McKenna's take on MRSA st398 in British livestock.

Maryn is the author of "Superbug" and just the person to explain infectious disease and its implications to the non-scientific public like the writer.

This is now a global story, and Defra, Britain's agricultural ministry, will have to answer the questions raised; questions that should not have to be asked overseas.

Be sure to go to her article and read it all.  We hesitated to leave anything out. You can get the links via her blog here.

Livestock MRSA Found For First Time In UK Milk

BY MARYN MCKENNA 12.26.128:29 AM

This paper almost slipped by me. It was published quietly a few weeks ago, and it’s a little eyebrow-raising. From EuroSurveillance, the open-access peer-reviewed bulletin of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (Europe’s CDC): The ST398 strain of MRSA, better know as “livestock-associated MRSA” or just “pig MRSA,” has been found for the first time in milk in England. (And therefore probably in cows, or at least on farms.)

Apparently there has been an ongoing study looking for any evidence of MRSA in UK cows, possibly because of this news from last year (of which more in a minute). ...

...What makes ST398 distinctive is that it has a signature antibiotic resistance, to tetracycline, which is not present in hospital or community MRSA, and which is easily traced to antibiotics used in livestock raising and especially in swine agriculture.

(For much more about ST398, you could look at my archives here and in this blog’s former location; and you could also peruse the blog of Tara Smith, the University of Iowa professor who has been the sole US researcher to take this seriously.)

So, now, this news: The interesting thing is that this is not the first identification of MRSA in milk in the UK. That finding (which I referred to up above) was made 18 months ago, by the same team responsible for this new discovery. Having made that identification — of what was, at the time, a never-seen MRSA strain — this team from Cambridge and Denmark went on looking in milk for other MRSA strains, and found ST398...

...But it is important to note that the UK agriculture authorities have been notably resistant to looking for ST398 over the years...

...The paper says, and this is narrowly correct, that there should be no concern over MRSA transmission via milk, because pasteurization will sterilize it. That may be true, but it does not account for the increasing appetite for milk sold raw, nor for raw-milk cheese.

...But a larger issue is that the presence of ST398 on UK farms could pose the potential for spread from cows into other animal species, as well as to farm workers. That makes ST398 an occupational health risk for farm workers, who could become infected with this strain — but it also threatens to make farm workers the vector for carrying the strain off farms and into the wider world...

...Despite its longstanding reluctance, it will be really important for the UK to start looking for MRSA on its farms now...

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

MRSA st398, Scandal breaks Christmas Day

We did not expect to be posting today but, unlikely as it seems. the biggest scandal of the 21st century is now breaking with 'The Independent'  publishing on Christmas Day.

They are right to publish. Much more, and worse, is to come.

Just selected highlights, and it is difficult to select, 'The Independent' are due great credit for publishing.

Defra, Britain's truly awful agricultural ministry, now have to explain their quite extraordinary dereliction of duty before the court of public and world opinion.

The full 'Independent' report can be found here.

New MRSA superbug strain found in UK milk supply 
Research reveals that antibiotic-resistant organisms are gaining a hold on dairy industry

Jeremy Laurance
Tuesday 25 December 2012

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...

...Experts 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.

The 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....

...Vets in Norway and Denmark had much more limited prescribing powers than in the UK, he added.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Defra - Caught red-handed over MRSA in milk

Things are running red hot in Britain with a pretty selective interpretation of the research from the National Farmers Union  according to Farmers Weekly.

Despite the Farmers Weekly article, MRSA st398 was in fact detected in British milk a long time ago.

The milk is probably fine with pasteurisation, but this massive long running scandal goes far deeper and wider than that, and for very much longer. It is indeed the worst scandal of the 21st. century so far.

British farmers, consumers and trading partners deserve better than this.

MRSA was found in British milk more than three years ago. We told the world, referencing Hansard, Britain's Parliamentary record, on this blog 18 months ago. You can't do better.

Similar material can be found on the British newsgroup at the time.

The roots of this scandal, the culprits, and compensation for the victims, can be uncovered by carefully following the origins of the barrage of manufactured defamation levelled at the writer for the last decade and more.

The archives of the newsgroup, reachable via Google Groups, will be the right starting point for lawyers and statutory bodies, in Britain and overseas.

First, the Farmers Weekly news article today, the full report here:

NFU says milk is safe despite MRSA report

FW reporters
Friday 21 December 2012 12:23

The NFU has assured consumers that UK dairy products are "completely safe", even though scientists have detected the MRSA bug in British raw milk for the first time...


"...scientists have detected the MRSA bug in British raw milk for the first time..." does not seem to be accurate.

The real story is very different and we can quote Hansard the official record of the proceedings of Britain's House of Commons'.

We will send you there via our blog here


MRSA in Milk. British government cover-up

The British government did know that MRSA had been found in British milk nearly two years ago but suppressed the news. No warning was issued.

People have been infected, presumably either during the milking process or drinking the 2 percent of raw  (unpasteurised) milk still available in Britain.

The evidence comes directly from the House of Commons record where the Minister has been questioned by an alert MP last week.

Here is the extract from Hansard ( the official record of the proceedings of Parliament )

Our previous articles cover the development of this scandal.

here  3 June 2011

MRSA in British milk and farm workers 

and here 6 June 2011

E. Coli in Sprouts and MRSA in milk

and here 18 June 2011

MRSA in Milk, Battle breaks out in Britain. Crooks versus Cranks.

Superbug MRSA ST398 found in British cattle

As you can see the important Soil Association are now weighing in with criticism of Defra

Strong stuff for them.

In case anyone notices a similarity with what the writer has been saying, we are not members of the Soil Association, and have never to our knowledge been in touch.

If they have been reading our blog, using it to inform and going back to check the sources, that's just fine by us.

This blog is a duty call, not an attempt to make money or drum up personal publicity. The price of freedom (and public health) is eternal vigilance. The writer was just the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the right man in the right place, at the right time: it depends on your point of view.

Anyway, Defra, the responsible Ministry, are going to have to react by doing something constructive, even if it is only burning all the evidence and running.

They won't do that.

They are British civil servants, standing at their posts when all about them collapses.  They will dig their heels in, shuffle their staff, change their name and lose all the evidence; the standard for the Ministry with many scandals.  It will be found in a century or two, when the remnants of civilisation has forgotten us all..

The full Soil Association media release with all the sources and contact can be found here

Superbug MRSA ST398 found in British cattle

21 December 2012

The Soil Association is calling for the government to investigate
British farm animals carrying MRSA and act to stop the overuse of
antibiotics in farming. 

This follows new research from the University of Cambridge [1]
revealing the first cases of MRSA ST398 have been found in UK
livestock. First found in pigs in the Netherlands in 2003, MRSA ST398
has since become epidemic in European and North American pig
populations [2] and has spread to poultry and cattle. It has not been
found in British food animals before. However, very little testing has
been carried out compared to other EU countries [3].

The superbug can cause serious and occasionally deadly infections in
humans and is becoming a cause of mastitis in cows [4][5]. The high
level of antibiotic resistance makes this infection difficult to
treat, and the Cambridge scientists say their finding is therefore ‘of
significance to both veterinary and human health’.

Scientists tested 1,500 samples of bulk milk and found seven cases of
MRSA ST398 in milk from five different farms in England, Scotland and
Wales. Although there is no direct threat to human health from
consuming milk, because pasteurisation will kill the bacteria,
research from other countries has shown farmers, vets and abattoir
workers are at increased risk. In the Netherlands, ST398 now accounts
for 39% of human MRSA cases. [6]

Although this study only tested bulk milk, it is likely many calves on
affected farms will also carry MRSA ST398. According to recently
published Defra research, over three quarters of British dairy farms
feed waste milk containing antibiotic residues to calves [7]. This is
milk produced during the withdrawal period, after a cow has been
treated with antibiotics, and is legally unfit for human consumption.
Defra showed that 21% of waste milk samples contained residues of
cefquinome, a modern cephalosporin [8]. Modern cephalosporins are the
antibiotics most suspected of favouring the growth of MRSA ST398.
Waste milk can also contain residues of other antibiotics associated
with MRSA spread.

If calves are affected, then any meat from these animals may also be
contaminated. The emergence of MRSA ST398 in cattle could also lead to
British pigs and poultry becoming affected, if this is not already the
case. Defra has refused to test British poultry for MRSA, despite the
Soil Association calling for such surveillance since 2007 [9].

Richard Young, Soil Association Policy Adviser said; “This should be a
wake-up call for Defra. The European Food Safety Authority recently
called on all Member States to carry out regular monitoring of
poultry, pigs and dairy cattle for MRSA, but unlike other countries,
the UK continues to ignore this request. We are lucky independent
researchers identified this problem at an early stage. We are calling
for comprehensive surveillance to be established before it gets out of

Defra must also urgently deal with the problem of waste milk
containing high levels of antibiotic residues being fed to calves.
There is strong evidence this has contributed to the spread of other
superbugs, like ESBL E. coli, and it is also likely to make the MRSA
problem on dairy farms much worse. We are keen to work with the
industry to address this challenge and call for a ban on feeding
calves waste milk from cows that have recently received antibiotics,
unless the milk can be treated to destroy antibiotic residues and kill
resistant bacteria while ensuring the resulting milk is still
sufficiently wholesome to be fed to calves.

We also need much stricter controls on the use of the modern
cephalosporins. These antibiotics are classified by the World Health
Organisation as critically important in human medicine, yet they
continue to be used routinely on many cattle and pig farms. There has
been a 400% increase in the use of these antibiotics on British farms
over the last decade and similar increases have occurred abroad. Many
scientists believe this to be the main reason for the growing MRSA
problem in livestock.”

Recent Dutch research has shown that people living in rural areas of
high livestock density are also at increased risk of becoming carriers
of MRSA ST398. This found that a doubling of the density of cattle
increased the odds of being a carrier by over 75% [10]. Occasional
hospital or nursing-home outbreaks of MRSA ST398 have also occurred in
the Netherlands, showing that the bacteria can spread from person to

Although Cambridge scientists had previously found a different type of
MRSA in British cattle [11], the emergence of MRSA ST398 has potential
to spread far more widely in British farm animals, based on what has
occurred abroad. This is partly because the ST398 strain has the
ability to acquire much higher levels of antibiotic resistance than
most other MRSA strains, and the seven cases found in this study were
resistant to between three and five families of antibiotics. Cases
abroad have been resistant to up to 11 families of antibiotics [12].

A small number of cases of MRSA ST398 infections in humans in Scotland
have already occurred, and earlier this year it was revealed in the
minutes of a Defra meeting that human cases have also occurred in
Northern England, but no details were provided [13].

Although MRSA ST398 can cause serious infections in humans, it is
currently considered to be less virulent than ordinary hospital MRSA.
However, scientists have warned that it has a greater ability than
most strains for acquiring new virulence genes which would make it a
greater threat to humans [14], and very recent American research has
found the first-ever cases of MRSA ST398 in pigs with the highly
virulent PVL (Panton-Valentine leukocidin) gene [15]. PVL MRSA can
sometimes cause necrotising fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease which
can require infected tissue to be cut away.


For press enquiries contact the Soil Association press office...

MRSA st398 found in our milk

The Daily Mail headline this morning sums it up:

"MRSA found in our milk: Superbug strain can cause serious infections in humans and is resistant to antibiotics"

Full report here

The text contains the following words

"MRSA ST398 was first seen in pigs in Holland in 2003. It has since become epidemic in European and North American pig populations and has spread to poultry and cattle"

Regular readers will know that MRSA st398 ( MRSA cc398 )in British pigs has been discussed  on the newsgroup for many years with many thousands of postings.

It is the international record, available safe from tampering by the British government, claiming that MRSA st398 has been in Britain for years and has been illegally covered up, by Britain's agricultural ministry, once MAFF, now Defra.

Britain's veterinary industry has some explaining to do. And judging by the reports so far, they are not doing very well.

Hinting that the Dutch were to blame is not going to work.

"Blame someone else, preferably innocent," is not going to cut any ice either with those blamed and intimidated, including witnesses and whistle-blowers to Parliament, even less with the relatives of those infected with MRSA st398.

That is another huge bill for compensation the British taxpayer is going to have to face due to animal disease infecting humans.

Investigators will find invaluable (use Google Groups to search for multiple searches as "MRSA st398" brings many results.)

This blog is also a source, free of interference since its restoration by Google.

The first reports in the media of MRSA st398 in British milk including the Daily Mail appeared 18 months ago, but the subject was dropped. The writer was complaining about the lack of reporting of MRSA st398 in British pigs years before. Nothing was done to protect other species, exports of live beasts or the British public.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Schmallenberg - Not just midges, was it?

As usual, Britain now has to look abroad for proper veterinary science having misled everyone about Schmallenberg Virus (SHV).

Those interested can access dozens of previous posts, using the search function, dating back almost a year, doubting the official, Defra, Britain's infamous agricultural ministry, story.

We could save a fortune in costs, direct and consequential, by closing some veterinary schools and importing expertise, instead of disease.

We make things much worse by pouring taxpayers' money into failing professions and employing dodgy civil servants.

Full Promedmail post here

...The current findings, concerning SBV and bull semen, are obviously different. The risk posed by semen and embryos may not be regarded as "negligible" until further studies are accomplished. Results of the ongoing in vitro and in vivo studies, undertaken by the FLI investigators about the infectivity of the SBV-positive semen samples, are anticipated with interest.

As a precautionary measure, several countries, including Australia, Canada, and the USA have already applied restrictions on imports of bovine semen and embryos collected after 1 Jun 2011 from all EU countries. For their list and additional information, see ProMED-mail posting 20121218.1456595.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Stopping MRSA cc398 - pig MRSA.

The route of many animal and zoonotic diseases, not least the very dangerous circovirus and co-infections, is in the live trade and semen-embryos. 

The Danes are, as usual, courageous in recognising the problem in MRSA, not least, Professor Frank Aarestrup.

We are talking about realised , not theoretical, risks to human health and the interests of the veterinarians in exporting and importing live pigs, embryos and semen about the world, have to take second place to human health.

Nobody, anywhere, voted to put veterinarians in charge of world human health, still less those making money from international movements.

It is up to individual governments to exercise proper control and supervision of their veterinary industry, until world organisations mobilise.

Extracts for a mechanical translation follow, the full report is here.

MRSA can be stopped?

Experts believe that more testing and a ban on trade of infected pigs is the way forward if we are to break MRSA curve. Agricultural say no.

Frank Aarestrup believe that MRSA can be controlled if you prohibit trade with the infected animals.
By Esben Christensen

It is a fact that a growing number of people become ill as a result of the dangerous MRSA bacteria.The figure has increased explosively since the millennium and looks back out to set a new record this year. 
The most common sequelae of the bacterium is boils, but it can also lead to much more serious symptoms, which at worst can be fatal. 
It is also a fact that the MRSA type that causes most cases CC398, better known as swine MRSA. 
All parties agree that the curves must be broken. But ending the agreement also.

Frank Aarestrup is a professor and research director at the National Food Institute, specializing in antibiotic resistance. He believes that a ban on the sale of infected pigs is the way forward...

...- It is a safety problem, not a food safety problem. It is inevitable that agricultural workers who are in direct contact with pigs, will get infected. But we must be aware of good hygiene, so they do not take it out of the barn, says Poul Bækbo, department of Pig Research Centre under the agriculture industry association Agriculture and Food. 

The workers, who therefore will inevitably be MRSA bacteria, as a result may experience symptoms such as abscesses, infections in wounds and at worst fatal poisonings in blood and spinal cord. ...

Monday, 17 December 2012

Britain's great livestock antibiotic scandal gets worse

The antibiotic resistance scandal in British livestock gets ever worse.

A reasonable interpretation would be that Defra, Britain's massive dubious agricultural ministry, are manipulating or holding back information from the ARHAI.

The function of the ARHAI is explained here in the national archives

Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI)

The Advisory Committee on Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) was established in April 2007 to provide practical and scientific advice to the Government on strategies to minimise the incidence of healthcare associated infections and to maintain the effectiveness of antimicrobial agents in the treatment and prevention of microbial infections in man and animals.

We start here at a Defra website

Defra Antimicrobial Resistance Co-ordination (DARC) Group
MRSA Sub-Group 15
the Meeting
Report of meeting held on 1 February 2012

…7. Human Cases of MRSA ST398 under investigation in Northern England
7.1 Members were provided with some background to this agenda item.
7.2 A member commented that in relation to this agenda item there was nothing  of particular issue in terms of public  health. However, it would be useful to  have nationally agreed communication lines as well as local ones. A member  queried if there would be any issues if they passed information on these cases  to ARHAI and were informed that there shouldn't be any issues, however they  would be provided with a few summary lines that they could use at the ARHAI  meeting.
7.3 Regarding these cases, the source of the MRSA was still being explored.    
7.4 It was considered that currently without the additional information there was  nothing further for this group to comment on under this item at the moment.


Now if  we were  members of the ARHAI,  we would be (to put it very mildly) besieging Defra to find out just what they have been holding back from us or why anyone needed a "with a few summary lines " to bring the matter to my attention.

If I did not get an immediate plausible explanation, my resignation would be in the post and I would be briefing journalists.

The membership of the ARHAI is here again from the National Archives Are they getting the information they should be getting?

This snapshot, taken on 07/09/2012, shows web content acquired for preservation by The National Archives. External links, forms and search may not work in archived websites and contact details are
likely to be out of date

MRSA st398 in People in England.

Some days the writer wonders to himself, "am I overstating the case?"

Then we run across something that simply astonishes by the sheer unabashed effrontery and seriousness.

This was good example. It's a British government site here

Despite the problems, the last meeting was cancelled meaning there has been no meeting since Feb 1 2012.

Those meaningless minutes, cover mostly discussing a pet charity and its website revamp.

Anywhere outside Defra, the massive British agricultural ministry, one meeting, one set of minutes like this and the bulk of the members would publicly refuse to get involved in an obvious farce.

We are especially concerned about this entry from the last meeting February last. 

If anyone gave us, as a Committee Member, “some background” and comments from “a member” details and name was not minuted, the writer would be proposing a motion of no confidence in the Chair and refusing to authorise the minutes. 

If the motion failed we would resign and call the media.

In our time, we sat on many similar government sponsored committees, actually chairing hundreds of meetings, including senior civil servants as members.

Some of the material was confidential and raised security implications, but the minutes were still intelligible and informative, making an accurate record of what was discussed. We did not produce minutes padded with trivia.

This is quite disgraceful. Where is the transparency promised? No wonder the country is riddled with animal and zoonotic disease, with the people of Britain kept in ignorance.

These confirm that there is another obvious cover-up on realised public health risks from "pig" MRSA in Northern England under way over the past year and more.

It is now only a matter of time before a major external investigation is launched into this disgraceful scandal.

Full Minutes of this meeting here

Defra Antimicrobial Resistance Co-ordination (DARC) Group  
MRSA Sub-Group 15
the Meeting  

Report of meeting held on 1 February 2012 

...“7. Human Cases of MRSA ST398 under investigation in Northern England

7.1 Members were provided with some background to this agenda item. 

7.2 A member commented that in relation to this agenda item there was nothing
of particular issue in terms of public  health. However, it would be useful to
have nationally agreed communication lines as well as local ones. A member
queried if there would be any issues if they passed information on these cases
to ARHAI and were informed that there shouldn’t be any issues, however they
would be provided with a few summary lines that they could use at the ARHAI

7.3 Regarding these cases, the source of the MRSA was still being explored.     
7.4 It was considered that currently without the additional information there was
nothing further for this group to comment on under this item at the moment. “

Sunday, 16 December 2012

The MRSA Secret List - Denmark

We usually look to Denmark for the most transparent government in respect of animal and zoonotic disease.

They have a very good record.

Even so, it seems that even Denmark have been withholding some data in respect of MRSA and pigs, even though much more information is publicly available in Denmark than in Britain.

This is one of those situations where the better a country behaves in the short term, the more they suffer: but only in the short term.

The more transparent, the better they will survive the looming antibiotic resistance disaster.

Denmark relies on its pork exports and any level of MRSA, even if lower than their competitors, is a problem.

The pattern of the trade organisations and veterinarians receiving information denied the public is certainly a massive problem in Britain too: a much worse problem than in Denmark, but one that is now just starting to be tackled.

Quotes below: the full article is available on (mechanical Translation)

10th December 2012 |

The Secret List

DVFA exchange confidential information with Agriculture and Food, the public can not get near. It is contrary to law, says leading lawyer.

- By Esben Christensen

For years, Openness parliament through aktindsigter and complaints attempted to access a list of MRSA-infected pig herds. Every time unsuccessfully, and the case has now been transferred to the Ombudsman.

But in the recent rejection showed that the trade association Agriculture and Food had received the list....

...Later, Food & Agriculture confirmed that they received the list around the turn, although they have previously denied it.

- We had not asked for it and really had no interest in having it, says Nicholas Norgaard, who is director of the Centre for Pig Production in L & F.

Breaking the law

According to one of the leading experts in media law and public law, Oluf Jørgensen, should public access be approved long ago. ...

...Maintain refusal

The new information and the sharp criticism is not enough for the Food & Drug Administration will reconsider its denial.

...Export Considerations bulky

It can be difficult to see why the Food & Drug Administration will take issue with the Public Records Act to help the agricultural industry.

But several sources Openness parliament have spoken to suggest that the great Danish pork exports play a role. Denmark exports about 90% of the produced pork, which in 2010 earned more than 28 billion dollars.

Since exports are so great, are called into question by the authorities' interest in implementing legislative changes, which probably will benefit food security, but will also go beyond agriculture's ability to produce good, exportable products to a global market where MRSA is not yet considered a major problem. And at the DVFA one can understand the mindset....

...The government is always many considerations to weigh against each other. This is no different than so many other things, and consideration for exports and industry obviously does not mean that we neglect regulation.

Friday, 14 December 2012

MRSA st398 - Reform in Britain underway

We were not the only one to notice the lack of testing for MRSA st398 in Britain obviously and four of the five source institutions are British: the other Danish.

Reform is under way in Britain, many years too late, of course.

Maff-Defra , Britain's Agricultural Ministry (changed name) must be scared witless of just what is going to emerge from the shadows from many years of rampant serious crime and corruption.

We could not believe it when they took to threatening witnesses to Parliament at Westminster

We have been been taking congratulations in the last couple of hours. That's nice after so many years of unpleasantness and abuse.

The obvious route will be a Royal Commission of Enquiry. We first asked for that in 2000. Now it is inevitable.

Full report from Eurosurveillance here

Eurosurveillance, Volume 17, Issue 50, 13 December 2012
Rapid communications

G K Paterson1, J Larsen2, E M Harrison1, A R Larsen2, F J Morgan1, S J Peacock3,4, J Parkhill4, R N Zadoks5, M A Holmes ( )1
1. Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
2. Microbiology and Infection Control, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark
3. School of Clinical Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
4. The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Wellcome Trust, Cambridge, United Kingdom
5. Moredun Research Institute, Penicuik, United Kingdom
Citation style for this article: Paterson GK, Larsen J, Harrison EM, Larsen AR, Morgan FJ, Peacock SJ, Parkhill J, Zadoks RN, Holmes MA.

First detection of livestock-associated meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus CC398 in bulk tank milk in the United Kingdom, January to July 2012. Euro Surveill. 2012;17(50):pii=20337. Available online:
Date of submission: 27 November 2012
Livestock-associated meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus belonging to clonal complex 398 (LA-MRSA CC398) is an important cause of zoonotic infections in several countries, but there is only a single published report of this lineage from the United Kingdom (UK).

Here, we describe the isolation of LA-MRSA CC398 from bulk tank milk from five geographically dispersed farms in the UK. Our findings suggest that LA-MRSA CC398 is established in livestock in the UK.

Awareness of the potential occupational risks and surveillance in other food-producing animal species should be promoted...

Friday, 7 December 2012

Veterinarians cease blaming Smallholders

We are not going to name or reference an exact quote for this report.

Any open sign of approval from us might stifle the green shoots of veterinary reform in Britain, and that is the last thing we need.

But it is now being openly admitted by senior veterinarians that small pig keepers pose little risk of spreading disease.

That's a really cheering development.

Many innocent and decent Britons were treated very badly by the "Blame someone else, preferably innocent" school of veterinarianism over the past decade and more.

However, many quite unnecessary restrictions remain on the traditional freedoms of feeding your family from your own production.

They arose from bad science, stupid PR and slamming shut the wrong stable door.

Decent people in Britain have given up much loved livestock activities simply because they could not face the restrictions and the resulting abuse of their freedoms.

The veterinarians, as a group, caused these unnecessary impositions, so it is now their job to make sure they are removed from the smallholders and hobbyists.

If you have hurt the innocent, part of the reform process is remedying the wrongs.

There is self-interest involved too, clean isolated small herds (and flocks) may provide the seed stock to re-establish disease-free larger livestock farms.

Anyway, it is a good day for freedom and of light following a long darkness.

Schmallenberg Virus - Russians threaten livestock import ban

Further to recent posts, we are now far from being alone in recognising the risks of live animal movements. Others are suspicious of reckless veterinarians signing or passing anything put under their nose, including their own colleagues.

Britain is an island and has had far too many animal disease incursions in recent years. The national herds are now awash with imported disease, some of which carry consequential human risks.

The official veterinary response has been hot air, disinformation, faking, bullying and outrageous secrecy.

They certainly make every effort to deny that the cause might be infected live imports, ignoring even the possibility and constructing the most ludicrous alternatives.

Anything that transfers the blame away from veterinarians especially government veterinarians and to any passing innocent: animal or human is adopted and promoted.

We are an island, we should be more secure, not in the lead in getting every disease and blaming any vector that does not risk exposing veterinary incompetence.

The Russians are now getting problems with Austrian imports and Schmallenberg Virus and are threatening to impose a ban on live imports. Britain insists that the importation into Britain was in midges flying backwards against the wind across a non-existent landscape.

Here is a mechanical translation from the site of the  Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance

In cattle from Austria identified pathogen exotic disease for Russia

December 3, 2012
From laboratory studies of blood serum 224 head of cattle imported into Abansky district of Krasnoyarsk region of Austria, 54 animals in the samples revealed the presence of antibodies to the virus Schmallenberg - exotic pathogen of cattle disease in Russia. This indicates that the animals were infected with the virus previously reported Rosselkhoznadzor.

Currently being tested these animals, which seeks to find out if their body is a live virus.

Rosselkhoznadzor notes importers of cattle, the import of animals from the EU to the additional risks they incur when performing import of animals from Europe, where a spread of the virus because the virus infected animals to be either destroyed or re-exported, which is not always possible to technical reasons.

Additionally Rosselkhoznadzor informs importers that in the near future, perhaps the decision to terminate the import of breeding cattle from countries where the disease has spread Schmallenberg, as provided by national veterinary services of the EU security guarantees delivered to Russia breeding stock, as you can see, in particular, in this case is not always justified.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Bluetongue & Schmallenberg - midges sacked

The rapidly changing livestock disease scene takes some tracking.

The first paragraph of the article by Life Technologies Corporationgiven the official position of state veterinarianism in Britain, is quite extraordinary.

Of course, midges played a part, but other vectors were brazenly ignored, but not in the opening paragraph of this article. Where are the, wind and geography defying, midges blamed for Britain's import of Bluetongue and Schmallenberg?

Spread is now down to the increased international trade in live animals, it seems.

We did not expect a change in attitude to come this suddenly!

The ambiguities and contradictions in the official story about Schmallenberg's arrival in Britain, were recorded, at the time, on my blog or sometimes here on

The writer was otherwise engaged when Bluetongue arrived in Britain, but a later trawl showed the same pattern of refusing information, published as normal in other countries, and murky contradictions. The inevitable "cold case" investigation will easily find those. They seem to be centred on the nature of the early cases.

Anyway, a very sensible article. Fast tests are essential to meet the gathering storm.

Cold Case review and DNA can clean up the historical record and allow for the proper treatment of the culprits.

"Blame someone else, preferably innocent" is at last being replaced by ethical veterinary science.  But, it will take time, we don't really have, to complete the process of reform in Britain.

The article published on The Pig Site can be found in full here

Emerging Diseases
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Pig Disease PRRS spreading in Switzerland

It looks like the Swiss may be fighting a losing battle.

They are going to be furious with the importers and exporters of the semen and their own veterinary border controls.

They were pretty lucky to have got such a clear view of how PRRS arrived in Switzerland by semen and who was responsible. They probably found it because they feared this happening. They have also got the point that PRRS spreads very rapidly through a farm, and not by semen.

What does this mean?

Well you won't legally get semen into any of the tiny number of countries free of  PRRS, and probably those that have not declared, but it is much more than that. All will slam the import doors shut.

If you recall even recently the British veterinarians were saying they were lucky not to have MRSA st398  and the allegedly more dangerous American form of PRRS.

So they won't be importing any semen or  live entire boars from the USA, will they?

Now. As you can imagine,  I don't necessarily believe anything that the British veterinarians say, but that does not matter - they said it and now have to be consistent and campaign to stop the import of US boar semen and live breeding boars into Britain.

Now, if they have been telling "porkies", they are in line for a spanking from an enraged Uncle Sam. One way or another they are hoist on their own petard.

So when are British over-confident  veterinarians going to ask Defra to ban American pig semen?

Defra, Britain's doubtful agricultural ministry, won't be able to stop the semen or boars, without good cause, and any veterinary fabrications will be exposed in the refusal process.

It's make your mind up time for Britain's veterinarians.

If they have a case, import and export of boar semen should stop.

It is actually a no lose situation for normal people with some standard of ethics, in both the USA and Britain.

I wonder what the situation would be about Canada?

Anyway, we are now entering the end game for one of the most disgraceful episodes in British civil service history.

A story that includes Mad Cow, Classical Swine Fever and, Foot and Mouth, vast expense, serious cruelty, delayed a general election and has continued since in a whole series of animal epidemics some threatening human health.

Swiss government report here

More PRRS-infected pigs in an infected farm

Bern, 05.12.2012 -

Last week was found in three plants of the Eastern one PRRS infection.The businesses were closed and arranged investigations of the stock. The first results of these studies have suggested that the disease could not spread any further. Now, in one of the infected farms in the later studied pigs positive test results have been reported. The infection spread in this operation also affect other pigs. All animals in the enterprise concerned will now be slaughtered. The Nachbeprobungen the infected holdings intensified.

Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is a viral infection of pigs that fertility problems, abortions, births can cause weak piglets and mild respiratory disease. Worldwide, it is one of the most important swine diseases. The disease spreads through infected animals. But it can also be transmitted through semen and in the body of sows to unborn piglets. PRRS is classified according Ordonnance disease to be eradicated. The suspected case of disease and operation and import bans are imposed to prevent spread of the disease.

For humans, the virus is not dangerous, and the meat can be eaten safely.

By importing semen from infected boars the PRRS virus reached Switzerland. The 72 sows, which were assigned to the positive sperm are slaughtered immediately after learning of the infection. Examinations of blood samples of those slaughtered sows showed that took place at 3 factories one PRRS infection. The three companies were classified according Ordonnance as infected farms. Assay results from Wednesday, 05 December now show that in each of the companies was able to spread the infection and was transferred to non inseminated pigs. Why now all animals are slaughtered in the enterprise concerned.

Next remain closed all 26 pig farms in which sperm deliveries from the German boar were used. The investigations of the sows in these businesses is ongoing. The same applies to the contact holdings, which were supplied with animals from these farms. At the present time, it is assumed, for the absence of contamination of the locked operations beyond could. The investigations of the blood samples from the disease and the contact holdings are intensified and continued. The analyzes run day and night, results arrive continuously.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Pig disease PRRS reaches Switzerland in boar semen

Pretty important stuff worldwide, and very damning for veterinarians and germplasm genetics import and export companies, from the Swiss Government.

For those not familiar with the term: "germplasm" includes live animals, semen and embryos.

This was not the IIIIM - imaginary, illegally, infected, imported meat, so beloved by Britain's vetocracy as the explanation for pig disease imported into Britain, was it?

This was veterinarians slipping up, in Germany and Switzerland.

"Blame someone else, preferably innocent," does not run in Switzerland, obviously.

They came clean, and quickly, to stop others closing the wrong stable door.

This information will have a big beneficial impact on disease controls worldwide, especially in the USA, Australia and New Zealand, where the prospect of PRRS in meat is impacting on politics and world trade.

Britain doubtless will continue blaming foxes, seagulls, IIIIM, illegal immigrants and anything else that comes to mind, for all animal disease: anything that is not traceable to veterinarians

There are two reports from Switzerland, a few days apart, both machine translated.

The first report is here

PRRS-infected pigs in Switzerland

Bern, 30.11.2012 -

The last precaution slaughtered sows, which were covered with infected semen from a German boar, the PRRS virus has been discovered. Thus, the disease has arrived in Switzerland. The veterinary service Switzerland has taken extensive precautionary measures and working hard that the virus can not spread any further. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is a viral infection of pigs that fertility problems, abortions, births can cause weak piglets and mild respiratory disease. Worldwide, it is one of the most important swine diseases. The disease spreads through infected animals. But it can also be transmitted through semen and in the body of sows to unborn piglets. PRRS is classified according Ordonnance disease to be eradicated. The suspected case of disease and operation and import bans are imposed to prevent spread of the disease.For humans, the virus is not dangerous, and the meat can be eaten safely. By importing semen from infected boars the PRRS virus reached Switzerland. Yesterday why were the 72 sows that were assigned to the positive sperm, slaughtered as a precaution. The investigations of the blood samples of these sows confirmed that so far has taken place in 6 animals from 2 farms one PRRS infection. The two plants are classified according Ordonnance as infected farms. This means that the whole stock must now be examined and all contact holdings, which have finally received from these infected farms sows and piglets are located and also blocked. Next remain closed all 27 pig farms in which sperm deliveries from the German boar were used. The investigations of the sows in these factories running in the next few days. Are in different cantons of eastern Switzerland has about 4,000 sows were bled and tested. With this large-scale investigation of the veterinary service will put Switzerland in collaboration with the industry everything to uncover the infected premises and thus the disease with the greatest possible safety again be banished from the Swiss pig  sties.

The second report is here.

Until now, no other PRRS-infected pigs in Switzerland

Bern, 04.12.2012 -

Last week was found in three plants of the Eastern one PRRS infection.The businesses were closed and arranged investigations of the stock. The first results of these studies suggest that the disease could not spread any further. Until now, no other infected animals have been discovered. All 27 pig farms in which
sperm deliveries from the infected German boar were used, remain locked in each stock and blood samples are examined. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) is a viral infection of pigs that fertility problems, abortions, births can cause weak piglets and mild respiratory disease. Worldwide, it is one of the most important swine diseases. The disease spreads through infected animals. But it can also be transmitted through semen and in the body of sows to unborn piglets. PRRS is classified according Ordonnance disease to be eradicated. The suspected case of disease and operation and import bans are imposed to prevent spread of the disease.For humans, the virus is not dangerous, and the meat can be eaten safely.
By importing semen from infected boars the PRRS virus reached Switzerland. The 72 sows, which were assigned to the positive sperm are slaughtered immediately after learning of the infection. Examinations of blood samples of those slaughtered sows showed that took place at 3 factories one PRRS infection. The three companies were classified according Ordonnance as infected farms. This means that the entire inventory is examined and their contact holdings were found and also blocked. Next remain closed all 27 pig farms in which sperm deliveries from the German boar were used. The investigations of the sows in these businesses is ongoing. The results of the infected farms are meanwhile. They suggest that to this day no other infected pigs were. To be sure that no infection was overlooked, the pigs are examined in the infected farms in the near future. At the present time can be assumed, for the absence of infection on farms locked out could. Since inseminated with semen from infected boars, sows were slaughtered immediately as a precaution, the virus was apparently not enough multiply and spread. The investigations of blood samples run day and night, results arrive continuously. A final clear can therefore not be given.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Infectious Disease Journalism and Social Media

The internet changes everything, not always in ways we can anticipate.

Although governments and others have increasingly used social media to try to influence, and sometimes mislead, public opinion, not least on animal and public health issues, it also gets much harder for them to neglect or hide up problems.

At a time when traditional journalism is besieged in Britain, and rather obsessed with their future, fresh avenues open. There is no substitute for professional journalists, but social media has a useful place too.

The newsgroup, despite the unpleasant behaviour and many deleted posts, is part of that process. In some fields it gives an unrivalled log of material removed from the public record, since the beginning of the current procession of animal and zoonotic disease starting more than a decade ago.

Maryn McKenna, one of most powerful and capable writers and speakers on infectious disease, has given a lecture in Minnesota on how Twitter and forums contribute.

Report from Minnesota in full here

Maryn McKenna: Infectious disease, journalism, social networking, and reaching beyond the scientific community.

Written by: Kassandra Remmel
Edited by: Angie Tsuei

Friday, November 30th, 2012 Minnesota Medical Leaders, along with the Microbiology Club and Bug Club of the University of Minnesota invited Maryn McKenna to present on her use of social networking and "scary diseases" to reach the general public. Maryn McKenna presented on the use of Twitter--how a simple hashtag can be used to monitor an outbreak, how a post on a web forum, originating from a question asked by a fourth grade teacher on a completely unrelated website can bring attention to the spread of an infectious disease, and how monitoring searches in search engines for the closest store containing orange juice can give rise to information as reliable as government-run infectious disease agencies in tracking outbreaks.

The event was live-tweeted, and an influx of #mmlSDG tweets rushed in--after 15 minutes, all tweets from audience members halted, 200 audience members being completely captivated by the Scary Disease Girl
and her presentation. For an hour and fifteen minutes, Maryn McKenna commanded the full attention of the audience, informing us all of new applications that allow us to monitor local outbreaks near our homes, and also global outbreaks--I wonder how many persons downloaded the apps she mentioned on Friday night...