Saturday, 4 May 2013

MRSA st398.in 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 uk.business.agriculture.

The full FarmingUK report is here