Wednesday, 29 May 2013

USA searches for source of PEDV

We believe that the majority of recent animal disease outbreaks in Britain resulted from the reckless legal importation of infected germplasm, ie live beasts, semen or embryos. 

Reuters has just delivered some pretty compelling material on the likelihood that the outbreaks of PEDV in the USA came from, allegedly PEDV clean, Canada. 

PEDV is a nasty economically damaging pig virus, in full: Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus or (Diarrhoea) 

If it was not from Canada, from where did it come?

It's all there: the increasing numbers of live movements over borders, the lack of testing, the mention of BSE, Swine Flu, even the original discovery of PEDV in Britain.

Now a bad situation is developing quickly and the frantic search for the source under way.

Many will remember the writer's  dash to the USA to warn them of the gathering storm and his allegations to the House of Commons and OLAF, the serious Fraud Squad of the EU, over test faking in Britain by senior veterinary civil servants during the Classical Swine Fever epidemic and the massive cover-up.

The USA, and others, have problems too, but it was Britain's pompous unchecked veterinary incompetents that led the race to the bottom.

Anyway, much of the story, and a thirteen year campaign for veterinary reform has been faithfully tracked on here on this blog and on the newsgroup

Here is a brilliant Reuters report on the latest veterinary disaster.

Find Reuter's report here 

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Norway - more MRSA st398 found in pigs

Norway has had a small number of pigs infected since 2011.

The only major countries failing to find MRSA st398 in pigs remain Britain and Ireland. But they did not look very hard and are desperately trying to find a way of finding some without facing international condemnation and a public enquiry.

Fell report from 'The Pig Site' here

Four Cases of MRSA Found in Norwegian Pigs
23 May 2013

NORWAY - The Norwegian Veterinary Institute has identified four cases of MRSA (Staphylococcus aureus that are resistant to antibiotics) in Norwegian pigs. The country's food safety authority, the National Veterinary Institute and the swine industry are now considering measures to prevent spread of the disease...

(read in full)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Antibiotic Use in British Pigs

The important and influential British Soil Association have made some changes to their site and produced some figures on antibiotic use in pigs that we have not noticed published before.

As far as we know, the British Government has never published antibiotic usage in pigs except lumped together with poultry.

Their corrupt civil service veterinarians are too frightened to tell Britain the truth.

So, we guess all the Soil Association can get is estimates - and since they have a bigger research department than we have , it is the best we are likely to get.

Full Soil Association report here

…Disease, injury and premature death

Our powerful scientific evidence shows that the incidence of a number of serious diseases, including salmonella, could increase when large numbers of pigs are kept together indoors.

Large scale intensive pig factories give reason to be concerned about the build up of antibiotic resistance genes in pigs and pork, local wildlife, soil and pig workers, and potentially everyone living locally to them, due to the frequent use of antibiotics in pig feed to control a wide range of conditions on intensive farms.

Approximately half of all antibiotics in the UK are prescribed by vets (of which around 45% are used on farms and approximately 5% are given to pets). Approximately 60% of all antibiotics used on farms are given to pigs.

All but one of these are the same as, or closely related to, medically important antibiotics used in human medicine…

Monday, 20 May 2013

PED Virus found in Iowa hog population

Reuters reports a “new” pig disease, PEDV, porcine epidemic diarrhoea, hitting Iowa.

The disease is common elsewhere, but hitherto the Americas have been clear.

It raises some interesting comparisons with the British handling of continuous, and continuing, outbreaks and epidemics of animal and zoonotic disease.

Many are of these are emerging diseases and new strains, especially, although by no means exclusively,infect pigs, and more disturbingly, sometimes people.

Britain and her government veterinarians have repeatedly handled such incursions and outbreaks, by firstly, no doubt reasonably, saying that they did not know the route of importation, coupled with a less convincing assurance, that there is no risk to human health.

But, they also quickly make it clear that it came from overseas, the word “foreign” usually appears, sometimes with a possible source.

Very soon, the economic consequences for the home industry are expressed as dire and speculation on the method of arrival begins.

The most likely route of importation – legal imports of germplasm (that’s live animals, semen or embryos) under veterinary control and supervision is never mentioned or contemplated.

Any suggestion that it was imported by accident by veterinarians arriving home from conferences abroad, often including visits to foreign pig farms is missing from public pronouncements. Any chance that it spreads domestically from farm to farm by veterinarians moving about is ignored.

Yet illegal immigrants are quickly suggested by the farming media, briefed by the veterinary industry, as a likely source, despite the fact that the farmers usually legally employ the immigrant workers.

Foreign boots and hot breath become riskier than white boots, bio suits and peppermint flavoured assurances.

Then somehow, the media gets hold of wilder theories: inadequate import controls, lax border inspections, anything will do, however unlikely. Preferably the government is to blame and must compensate  farmers for both losses and treatment.

Illegally imported infected meat is often claimed to be to blame. Although why anyone would import such material is ignored, as is the route onto the farms and to the livestock.

Co-infections flourish on even those animals sick with viruses, and veterinarians feed antibiotics to fend off or treat. Antibiotic resistance develops and flourishes.

Then as a solution, protectionism steps in to solve the falling farm incomes and to protect public health from “foreign rubbish.” That policy has the added bonus of increasing domestic prices.

Hang-on, we have been here before – the Great Depression. This time, there is the added misery of antibiotic resistance seeping into the hospitals.

You can see the picture developing in Iowa.

Let’s see if Iowa can break the mould and take a lesson from history.

 You can read the Reuters' report in full here.

Virus found in Iowa hog population, possibly beyond

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Risks related to Schmallenberg virus and international trade

It seems that someone else can contemplate another vector other than backward flying, wind and geography defying midges.

It was the immediate past president of the OIE that first chastised Britain for failing to report circovirus for listing more than a decade ago. That was immediately before the disastrous CSF and, Foot and Mouth epidemics.

Defra, once MAFF, Britain's infamous agriculture ministry, amongst many inane pronouncements, did not even know the geography of Britain. That's what comes of relying on PR bunnies rather than blue chip professionals to handle your "blame someone else" propaganda.

Britain's hopelessly corrupt veterinary establishment are well on their way to total disaster. It is time for the young bloods to throw the pompocrats out and take over. Fortune favours the brave.

Full OIE media release here

OIE technical meeting discusses risks related to Schmallenberg virus and international trade

Paris, 15 May 2013 - The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)organised on May 7-8 2013 an informal technical meeting on the risks related to trade in live bovines and small ruminants, their germplasm and products from countries where Schmallenberg infection is present.

Participants in the meeting included OIE experts Prof Steven Edwards (Chair of the meeting and previous chair of the Biological Standards Commission), Dr Ann Brigitte Cay (Belgium), Dr Peter Kirkland (Australia), Dr Toshiyuki Tsutsui (Japan), representatives from Belarus, the Federation of Russia and Kazakhstan. Dr Francisco Reviriego-Gordejo, from the Directorate General for Health and
Consumers of the European Commission and Dr Kazimieras Lukauskas OIERepresentative in Moscow, as well as several officers from OIE  Headquarters attended as observers.

The meeting allowed the participants to share views on the potential risks of spread of the Schmallenberg virus through international trade in relevant animals and animal products…

...The request by Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus to the OIE to consider Schmallenberg infection as an OIE-listed disease has been officially given to the OIE Director General. The Director General will transmit the request to the relevant bodies for a new examination, following again the official procedures.

After the meeting some new national measures including on semen and embryos have been taken in accordance with a part of the current OIE guidelines.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Germany - Antibiotics in animal husbandry

A taster from Germany, just published, where they own up to animal health problems, keep their government veterinarians under proper control and make sure public health information is in the public domain.

One bad bit of mechanical translation - "In pig, it looks much better. " would be better as "In pigs it is hardly (any) better."

The full news report from ARD is here

So, 12:05:13 17:00

Antibiotics in animal husbandry

In the farming much antibiotics is used...

...In pig, it looks much better. No wonder, then, that 50 to 70 percent of the pigsties with MRSA specific type of animal "ST398" are contaminated. And 87 percent of farmers and veterinarians who work in these stalls are already occupied by this MRSA strain.

Risk-meat food

At the Robert Koch Institute in Wernigerode / Harz Professor Wolfgang Witte researched for over 30 years, the distribution channels of staphylococci. He sees with concern the development and diffusion of new MRSA strain from animal stables...

Author: Frank Bowinkelmann (NDR)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

MRSA in pigs and farm workers in the USA and missing in Britain

Good science from the USA - PR puff and doubtful statistics misleading the world from Britain's corrupt government veterinarians and agricultural ministry - Defra.

See the last paragraph.

Zero percent in England (this should be Britain, or even the British Isles, not just England ), when you have not done the work, is just not credible.

Britain's corrupt veterinary establishment - an embarrassment and a very real danger to us all.

Full paper here

Published: May 7, 2013

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Pigs and Farm Workers on Conventional and Antibiotic-Free Swine Farms in the USA
Tara C. Smith.

Wondwossen A. Gebreyes, Melanie J. Abley, Abby L. Harper, Brett M. Forshey, Michael J. Male, H. Wayne Martin, Bayleyegn Z. Moll, Srinand Sreevatsan, Siddhartha Thakur, Madhumathi Thiruvengadam, Peter R. Davies

Much uncertainty remains about the origin and public health implications of livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA). This study aimed to investigate the occurrence and prevalence of MRSA in general and LA-MRSA in particular in pigs and farm workers in five states. We collected nasal swabs from pigs and farm workers at 45 swine herds (21 antibiotic-free herds; 24 conventional herds) in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Carolina and Ohio. MRSA was isolated from 50 of 1085 pigs (4.6%) and 31 of 148 (20.9%) of farm workers. MRSA-positive pigs and people were clustered
in four conventional swine farms in Iowa and Illinois. Based on genotyping, spa type t034, a common livestock associated variant, was predominant among both human and swine isolates. These results confirm
the presence of LA-MRSA in pigs and swine farm workers in the USA, but the prevalence found is relatively low compared with European studies.

Citation: Smith TC, Gebreyes WA, Abley MJ, Harper AL, Forshey BM, et
al. (2013) Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Pigs and
Farm Workers on Conventional and Antibiotic-Free Swine Farms in the
USA. PLoS ONE 8(5): e63704. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063704

Editor: J. Ross Fitzgerald, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Received: August 1, 2012; Accepted: April 9, 2013; Published: May 7,

Copyright: © 2013 Smith et al. This is an open-access article
distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source
are credited...


The emergence of LA-MRSA in major food animal species has raised numerous questions and concerns for public health and livestock industries. First identified in The Netherlands around 2004, these
organisms have since been found in swine herds in many European countries and also in North America [10], [11], [15]. Based on screening using farm dust samples, the prevalence of positive swine herds varied widely among European countries, from 0% in England, Ireland and Sweden, to over 41% in Germany and 51% in Spain [16]. As found in our study, within positive herds, prevalence of culture positive pigs is typically high (17% to 100% of pigs positive).

Initial studies in North America indicated that the prevalence of LA-MRSA in swine may be similar to that reported in Europe. In a convenience sample of 20 herds in Ontario, Khanna et al (2008) found 25% of 285 pigs and 20% (5 of 25) of swine farm workers were culture positive, with spa type t034 predominant [11]. Smith et al (2009) first documented the presence of LA-MRSA in the USA in one of two swine production systems studied, and found a high within-herd prevalence (70% of pigs) in the positive system [10]. Davies et al (in preparation) found LA-MRSA occurring in US swine veterinarians (5%) and in 25% of 539 market hogs from 45 herds slaughtered at major US packing plants, with t034 again being the most common spa type. Given the narrow scope of the study of Smith et al (2009) and the difficulty in interpreting data from market hogs due to the possibility of exposure during transport and lairage, further studies are required to
obtain more reliable estimates of the prevalence of MRSA in US livestock industries...

Animal MRSA...a major threat to public health

We are sorry that we have not been wasting our time for the past thirteen years. 

It would be great to wake up one morning and find no risk to humans from antibiotic use on livestock

But everything continues to point to antibiotic use in livestock farming as a serious threat to human health.

The full paper can be found here

Historical Zoonoses and Other Changes in Host Tropism ofStaphylococcus aureus, Identified by Phylogenetic Analysis of a Population Dataset

  • Marcus A. Shepheard mail
  • Vicki M. Fleming,
  • Thomas R. Connor,
  • Jukka Corander,
  • Edward J. Feil,
  • Christophe Fraser,
  • William P. Hanage



Staphylococcus aureus exhibits tropisms to many distinct animal hosts. While spillover events can occur wherever there is an interface between host species, changes in host tropism only occur with the establishment of sustained transmission in the new host species, leading to clonal expansion. Although the genomic variation underpinning adaptation in S. aureusgenotypes infecting bovids and poultry has been well characterized the frequency of switches from one host to another remains obscure. We sought to identify sustained switches in host tropism in the S. aureus population, both anthroponotic and zoonotic, and their distribution over the species phylogeny.


We have used a sample of 3042 isolates, representing 696 distinct MLST genotypes, from a well-established database ( Using an empirical parsimony approach (AdaptML) we have investigated the distribution of switches in host association between both human and non-human (henceforth referred to as animal) hosts. We reconstructed a credible description of past events in the form of a phylogenetic tree; the nodes and leaves of which are statistically associated with either human or animal habitats, estimated from extant host-association and the degree of sequence divergence between genotypes. We identified 15 likely historical switching events; 13 anthroponoses and two zoonoses. Importantly, we identified two human-associated clade candidates (CC25 and CC59) that have arisen from animal-associated ancestors; this demonstrates that a human-specific lineage can emerge from an animal host. We also highlight novel rabbit-associated genotypes arising from a human ancestor.


S. aureus is an organism with the capacity to switch into and adapt to novel hosts, even after long periods of isolation in a single host species. Based on this evidence, animal-adapted S. aureus lineages exhibiting resistance to antibiotics must be considered a major threat to public health, as they can adapt to the human population.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

PRRS - halt the live trade until you have solutions

Once again, we get an article from North America admitting how little the veterinary industry understands the pig disease PRRS, despite it being a plague on pig farming on both sides of the Atlantic for years

Not knowing may be excusable, but selling vaccines that don't work and trying to keep the public in the dark over many years, does.

The main vector of spread is obviously pig and germplasm movements: between farms, areas, countries and continents.

But this dangerous business is highly profitable for the veterinary industry, worldwide.

Anything, however improbable, may be blamed, any scam supported, except anything that interferes with their freedom to do what they like to promote breeding stock and semen profits with the full support, in Britain, of the veterinary establishment and Defra the Ministry.

Sure, pep up the research, but stop the movements, until solutions emerge.

Full Farmscape report here

Reseach Key to Addressing PRRS

Dr. Lisa Becton - National Pork Board

Farmscape for May 7, 2013

The National Pork Board suggests, by developing a better understanding of the mechanisms the PRRS virus uses to evade the immune system, scientists will be in a much better position to deal with the infection...

Monday, 6 May 2013

MRSA st398 (cc398) carried by veterinarians

The latest version of this Dutch paper has just been published. You can reach it via the abstract here

From Defra, Britain's corrupt agricultural ministry and the associated vetocracy, there will doubtless be a continuation of the decade long defiant silence, disinformation and criminal neglect of their responsibilities to both livestock and public health.

Dynamics and Determinants of Staphylococcus aureus Carriage in Livestock Veterinarians: a Prospective Cohort Study


Background. Since 2003, a new clade of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) belonging to clonal complex (CC) 398 and associated with animal husbandry has emerged in the Netherlands. The purpose of this study was to determine the dynamics of carriage in persons with direct contact to livestock...

...Conclusions. A high proportion of veterinarians had persistent MRSA CC398 carriage during the two-year study period, indicating that this variant may colonize humans for prolonged periods. Furthermore, prevalence of S. aureus carriage was extremely high, indicating that MRSA CC398 is not replacing the susceptible strains, but comes on top of it.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

MRSA Britain: First, find the pigs...

The British pig industry are troubled about the difficulty of getting planning permission for new and replenished pig buildings. Reports based on a media release are appearing in the farming news sites.

Everyone gets trouble with planning permission: that's one of modern business' burdens. The writer first got involved with birdwatchers when he was giving evidence to Parliament and they were objecting to the expansion of the Port of Felixstowe, many years ago.

Sometimes the objections are reasonable, sometimes they are not. You have to present your case to the authorities and hope you can overcome the objections. That's how it is done in a democratic country with a normal civil service.

Specifically, the pig industry has problems with pressure groups worrying about the human health implications of MRSA and objecting to new pig farms - that will mainly be the Soil Association.

The relevant paragraph is this;

"...For instance, one pressure group has raised the spectre of MRSA bacteria spreading from pigs to people in Britain - but MRSA has not been detected in livestock in this country, because of the low density of pigs..."

Well, that's  interesting logic!

First, MRSA st398 (or cc398) has been detected in other livestock and milk in Britain, so the statement is factually inaccurate.

Second,  they are correct in reminding us that Defra does still, rather, disingenuously claim that British pigs are MRSA (st398) free.

Perhaps, the British pigs are so widely dispersed across the landscape that the government veterinarians could not find any to test!

The only tests known to be done so far, aside from some private testing, were two or three years ago on the orders of the EU and consisted of a very few barn samples. They found nothing. No tests on actual pigs have been publicised.

At least, nobody claims the  absence of MRSA in British pigs is due to the superiority of the Defra veterinary regime: distance between pig farms is politer, even if alien to Eastern England.

Eventually, Defra, Britain's agricultural ministry, are going to have to tackle this problem properly. It should have been done years ago. You can find many articles on the scandal on this site - use the search function or read the newsgroup

The full FarmingUK report is here