Sunday, 29 September 2013

Hepatitis E in Pigs and Pork - Wikipedia

It took years of evidence, and shouting from the rooftops, to get Defra, Britain's truly awful agricultural ministry, to acknowledge that they had a major animal and human health problem with Hepatitis E.

It will take even more pressure to get them to do something constructive about it.

Some of the more intransigent livestock veterinarians in Britain and abroad are still arguing the toss, but most are finessing their position as fast as is consistent with their dignity.

But, when Wikipedia, taken as the ultimate oracle by so many, has it, it has to be right or, at the very least, un-ignorable.

The full extensive Wikipedia entry is here

Some selected quotes on Hepatitis E:

"In the United Kingdom the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said that the number of human hepatitis E cases increased by 39% between 2011 and 2012."

"DEFRA said that there was evidence that the increase in hepatitis E in the UK was due to food-borne zoonoses, citing a study that found 10% of pork sausages on sale in the UK contained the virus. Some research suggests that food must reach a temperature of 70°C for 20 minutes to eliminate the risk of infection. An investigation by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency found hepatitis E in 49% of pigs in Scotland."

Thursday, 26 September 2013

British NHS tracking down hospital C.Diff to pigs

For sure, this BBC report is accurate. The NHS and medical profession in Britain are starting to recognise the seriousness of the threat of zoonotic diseases, originating in animals, reaching the hospitals.

…Researchers said there was a growing awareness of animal and community sources of infection…

…"I think we're eating it all the time, probably from animals, and most of us get it and it doesn't matter."…

And from contact with animals!

…"But there is a growing feeling that community-acquired C. diff is equally important and there are also studies suggesting possible transmission to humans from animals. This has quite clearly been demonstrated from pigs to humans in the Netherlands"…

Obviously, you can’t be too clean in a hospital, but it does not address the underlying problem. People are vulnerable in hospital, and that’s all of us at some time or another. That is why patients are there, often under treatment regimens, making them vulnerable.

Merely using the words “pre-existing condition,” a frequent explanation, or an equivalent, does not excuse anyone. Much antibiotic resistant disease originated in livestock from the wild irresponsible use of antibiotics and was completely avoidable. 

But nothing was done in Britain due to the intransigence and greed of an over-powerful veterinary elite protected and pampered by government and their veterinarians. It is a very serious long running scandal, not least in pigs, that will have to be tackled.

If dangerous drugs, in this quantity and doing this much damage to human health, were sold on the high streets of Britain, the dealers would be hunted down, prosecuted and gaoled.

The hospitals are still not asking the right questions of patients:

"Do you work with pigs or pork?" 

 for example, and providing the right tests, accommodation and treatment for those that do.

The Dutch, and others, are way ahead and have been protecting their hospitals for years.

On a personal note, that’s all three of the human diseases mentioned under my signature for years, firmly linked to pigs, in major sources in the last few days. 

Alas, there are others: equally important, equally dangerous.

26 September 2013 Last updated at 02:17

Most C. diff infections are 'not hospital spread'

Most cases of C. difficile are not actually caused by the bug being spread round hospitals, a study suggests.
A team from the University of Oxford said "more and more deep cleaning ain't going to do any good".
Analysis of every C. diff infection in Oxfordshire for more than three years showed less than a fifth of cases had been spread between hospital patients.
Researchers said there was a growing awareness of animal and community sources of infection.
The gut bug is one of the most feared "hospital infections". It can be difficult to treat and deadly, especially in the elderly.
I think we're eating it all the time, probably from animals, and most of us get it and it doesn't matter”
Prof Tim PetoUniversity of Oxford

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Hepatitis E - Scotland - pigs - evidence of infection in 49 per cent

You can see why we have been complaining about Hepatitis E in British pigs for years,

- the activities of government veterinarians based in Scotland even when on duty in England,

- investigations of irregular activities by Scottish vets in England taking place in Edinburgh,

- and, indeed, harassment from Scotland over many years.

This could well become an issue in the Scottish independence campaign.

Don't forget a decade ago, pigs refused slaughter in Scotland were shipped south for killing with the comment "Let the English eat them if they like."

We don't thnk many people, either side of the border, would find that very acceptable.

So, independence or not, we are all going to have to take a lot more interest in government veterinary activities in Scotland and the state of Scottish pigs.

"Zoonoses Report
UK 2012
September 2013

...Infection in Animals

Hepatitis E does not cause disease in pigs and there are no routine surveillance systems  in place. The AHVLA investigated seroprevalence in Scottish pig samples as part of the  Chief Scientist Office (CSO) funded project investigating epidemiology and potential transmission routes of autochthonous HEV infection in Scotland. In this project, evidence  of infection (IgG) was found in 49% of pigs (Grierson, personal communication).

A pig abattoir survey will be undertaken in early 2013 (as part of a multi-agency project  with PHE, Defra, FSA and AHVLA) to better understand the possible role of infection in pigs on human disease incidence. Further detail will be available in next year’s report...

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR
Tel: 020 7238 6000
© Crown copyright 2013 "

Thursday, 19 September 2013

More and more Danes infected with MRSA.

This report from the  Technical University of Denmark, says it all really – the superbug in livestock crisis deepens, and in one of Europe’s most important pig producers.

Everyone else is not only owning up to a human health problem ignored by Britain’s hopeless state veterinary service, but trying to quantify and protect the population from agricultural excess and veterinary mismanagement.

For Danes, living as they do off a hog's back, that is a lot tougher than it would be to devious Defra: Britain’s infamous and dangerous agricultural ministry.

...“The continued increase in the number of cases of MRSA, particularly in people who are in contact with pigfarms, causes problems both for those affected and for the healthcare system,” explains Areahead, MD Robert Skov from Statens Serum Institut...
...Contact to pigs has been included as a risk factor for MRSA, and patients are asked about contact to pigs when admitted to hospital...
...Compared to 2011, the number of MRSA-positive pigs for slaughter has increased significantly: From 44% in 2011 to 77% in 2012...
 The full report is available here.

More and more Danes infected with MRSA bacteria

In 2012, 1,556 Danes were found positive with methicillin-resistant staphylococci - MRSA. This represents an increase of 20% from 2011. In fact, the total number of cases has almost doubled since 2009. MRSA bacteria are resistant to antimicrobial agents that are essential for treatment of treating life-threatening infections in humans...

...The figures are from the 2012 DANMAP report—the 17th time this report has been published. Each year, the DANMAP report accounts for the use of antimicrobial agents and the occurrence of antimicrobial resistance in animals, food and humans. The organisations behind DANMAP are National Food Institute, National Veterinary Institute, both at the Technical University of Denmark and Statens Serum Institut. The DANMAP report is prepared by National Food Institute and Statens Serum Institut

The DANMAP report is available in PDF format at

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Pig-manure fertilizer linked to human MRSA infections

The story in America takes us to yet another familiar scandal gathering strength and another dereliction of duty by those paid to protect public health in Britain.

The problem has been understood for years, but Defra's careful culturing and management of the media, largely kept it from public view in Britain. It is another case of state PR gone potty. You cannot treat zoonotic disease with bullying, favouring cronies and slick public relations.

Now, American and the international media reports threaten to break through a carefully managed wall of silence and disinformation in Britain.

You will find many references to MRSA and pigs on this site, and on the newsgroup dating back years.

Just a couple of headlines:

from 'Nature' here.

Pig-manure fertilizer linked to human MRSA infections 

Living near livestock farms and manure-treated fields associated with higher rates of antibiotic-resistant infection.

16 September 2013

Pigs on industrial farms are known to harbour antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

People living near pig farms or agricultural fields fertilized with pig manure are more likely to become infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, according to a paper published today in JAMA Internal Medicine...

From 'USA Today' here.

Community-spread MRSA infections related to pig manure

Liz Szabo, USA TODAY 4:07 p.m. EDT September 16, 2013

Living near pig farms or where pig manure is used increases the risk of superbug infections, a new study says...

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Hepatitis E and pork in Britain. 'Sunday Times' report

The really dreadful story of Hepatitis E in Britain, covered yesterday here, has really broken this time and in the Sunday Times this morning . The writer was not knowingly involved in the article, so it seems that they have arrived at similar conclusions as we did, independently: the timing co-incidental.

Britain has awoken to the news that their beloved pork is dangerous.

The most telling paragraph is in the Sunday Times (page 11)

"...scientists claim both Defra and the Food Standards Agency (FSA)have been given numerous warnings about the disease and have simply failed to act."

For sure that is true.

The writer is not a scientist, but even an interested non-scientist knew that the problem was so serious that the authorities decided to ignore and cover-up the implications for consumers and farmers alike.

This blog and published material elsewhere, shows that despite being under constant organised defamatory attack over many years, we tracked the story from its beginnings and constantly warned of yet another cover-up under way at Defra - Britain's truly awful and corrupt agricultural ministry and the successor of MAFF, the architects of BSE, Mad Cow, and vCJD.

Action will have to be taken urgently to remove those responsible for this new act of criminal neglect of duty, from public office or employ. There will have to be a public inquiry, under oath this time, with the prospect of criminal prosecutions for civil servants.

Anyway, here is the Sunday Times this morning. The rest is behind a pay-wall.

Deadly new virus found in sausages

Jonathan Leake, Science Editor Published: 15 September 2013

SCIENTISTS have warned that 10% of pork sausages sold in Britain are
infected with hepatitis E, a potentially deadly new virus that has
become endemic in intensively farmed pigs...

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Hepatitis E scandal breaks - increase points to foodborne source

We have been writing about the dangers of Hepatitis E  for years on this blog, and also recording much on the newsgroup, about the association with pig farming.

Google Groups search will help you with the newsgroup.

This blog has a search function leading to a number of articles over recent years.

Anyway, the evidence elsewhere (Cornwall) suggests that the association of pig farmers with their pigs is also a risk. There have also been outbreaks on British cruise ships sailing ex British ports.

That's another serious British  veterinary scandal being blown, but so slowly: far too slowly.

Here is Food Quality News

Defra's report, Zoonoses Report UK 2012
September 2013 is here

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Circovirus in Dogs - Ohio - latest - brave veterinarians

The latest report from Ohio gives us the feeling that things are not so different with North America’s veterinary establishment. Take on the orthodoxy and you get trod on. Veterinarians in the English speaking world, with good reason,  are often scared stiff of their own.

What price freedom if you are a veterinarian or dare criticise them?

Anyway, this confirms what we have been saying about Circovirus, the precursor to the epidemics of CSF (Classical Swine Fever) and FMD (Foot and Mouth) in 2000 and 2001. The dating is right and also consistent with the immediate source of British Porcine Circovirus being Canada. The importance of co-infections is clearly stated.

It has not yet been proved that it is the same disease in dogs and from, past experience, there will be an extreme reluctance to admit any connection with pigs, if indeed there is one.

But Ohio is pigs, and we have not overlooked the many mysterious, still unexplained,dog deaths, some even on the Queen's Sandringham estate, in an Eastern England, also thick with pigs and riddled with Porcine Circovirus.

There are corrupt dangerous vets, in very senior posts, with a taste for intimidation. Dangerous circovirus was, and is, being played down and covered-up, critics, even witnesses to Parliament were and are harassed and threatened .

Anyway, the Akron Beacon are to be congratulated. We give just the highlights, be sure to read in full here.

Researcher: Healthy dogs as well as sick ones can shed virus

By Kathy Antoniotti 
Beacon Journal staff writer

Melanie Butera in this Jan. 2013 file photo. Butera has been instrumental in the pursuit to find answers about the canine virus. (Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal)

A retired Ohio State University veterinary immunologist and pathologist who 15 years ago helped identify a deadly pig virus is praising a former student for raising concerns about dogs dying of a mysterious disease.

Dr. Steven Krakowka said it took courage for Dr. Melanie Butera to alert authorities when she saw something new and disturbing at her Canal Fulton veterinary practice.

“She took a big chance. If she’s wrong, she could get her head chopped. But she’s not wrong,” Krakowka said this week from his Ohio State office where he continues to conduct research part time.

He knows firsthand the risks of stepping out.

Krakowka and researchers John Ellis of Canada and Gordon Allen of Ireland discovered porcine circovirus 2 (PCV2) in 1997. They had trouble getting the U.S. swine industry to believe they had discovered a new disease and spent more than four years traveling the world talking about how to deal with it.

“Finally, the U.S. swine producers and particularly the swine infectious disease veterinarians had to admit that this disease was real and we had it in swine populations and that we — John, Gordon and myself — were absolutely correct,” Krakowka said...

Today, the vaccine developed to control the disease is given to pigs born worldwide, saving pork producers an estimated half a billion to a billion dollars a year in potential lost revenue.

The questions in today’s mystery are large: Is this the pig virus and has it jumped species? Are dog deaths in California, Cincinnati and Canal Fulton due to the same virus? Is the virus making dogs ill on its own, or is it working in conjunction with something else?...

...The UC-Davis results indicated that circovirus, alone or in co-infection with other pathogens, might have contributed to illness. On Tuesday, the Veterinarian Information Network, an online community for veterinarians, reported that samples from three infected Ohio animals had been delivered to Dr. Patricia Pesavento, an associate professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at the university. One tested positive for DogCV...

...Pesavento said previous researchers identified 10 animals that are infected with canine circovirus...

...Krakowka said the distinction that researchers gave the virus an individual name is telling.

“The California doctors have isolated and sequenced this virus and compared it. I don’t know how close it is to porcine circovirus 2. My guess is it is sufficiently distinct to get the name ‘canine circovirus’ rather than ‘pig circocvirus in dogs,’ ” Krakowka said.

Now, he said, the question is whether the virus itself makes the dogs ill, or whether the virus acts in conjunction with something else.

“In other words, is circovirus itself causing the disease or is the dog sick of something else and it happens to be carrying circovirus?” said Krakowka, among the most cited veterinary research scientists in the world, according to Science Watch International...

...If the new virus is found to parallel PCV2, healthy, normal dogs might be carriers that shed the virus through feces and respiratory tracts for several weeks and months, Krakowka said....

...State involvement

On Friday, the Ohio Department of Agriculture posted a notice on its website asking veterinarians to contact the Division of Animal Health if they suspect any patients are suffering from the same symptoms affecting dogs in the Akron-Canton area and Cincinnati...

...He called Butera “a very astute clinician to separate normal sickness from something else.”

“The fact that she’s in private practice rather than in an academic environment makes it even more amazing because there is almost no incentive to think outside the box when you are a practitioner and you are trying to make a living,” he said.

He sees a parallel between his experiences and those Canal Fulton veterinarian Butera is going through after notifying authorities of her suspicions.

“That’s a huge leap of faith to have the mental and the emotional courage to get out in front of this because nobody else has told you about it. And there you are, right on the leading edge, saying we got something new. And people paid attention,” he said.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Ohio Dog Deaths, Is it Circovirus?

For many years we have worried about Porcine Circovirus, it always seems to be the "ghost at the feast" - a sign not only of pig health problems, but also the harbinger of worse to come. 

It was the first illness in the series of three in England in 1999-2001. The pigs got Porcine Circovirus (PCV2), then Classical Swine Fever (CSF), then Foot and Mouth (FMD). The foot and mouth spread to cattle and sheep, the combination was a cruel financial disaster. The pigs are often still not well, with circovirus and what seem to be related illnesses.

Porcine Circovirus is little understood, clouded in confusion, shrouded in secrecy, awarded many arbitrary names (often for PR purposes) and dubious artificial distinctions. It has been spread about the world, and the international movement of live pigs is suspected to be the means of introduction.

The USA has Porcine Circovirus in its massive hog industry, with Ohio the biggest pork producing state.

Dogs, in the USA, have been known to get a form of circovirus, occasionally only, for a while. Suddenly, we see a cluster of sick dogs with some deaths and circovirus is suspected. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but the centre, of what seems to be a number of outbreaks, is in Ohio.

We look forward to the statement from Ohio, expected on Monday next.

The full story in the Akron Beacon Journal is here. Veterinary sites are also covering the story.

Still no definitive answers for dog-killing illness; theory points to new virus

By Kathy Antoniotti 

Beacon Journal staff writer

Chris Gatsios' five-year-old black lab Bella, from Canal Fulton. Bella is recovering from a possible virus strain that nearly killed her and has killed three dogs in Cincinnati. (Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal)

Symptoms associated with a new virus are similar to those exhibited in dogs that died in Cincinnati and others sickened in the Akron-Canton area over the past several weeks.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture said it has received calls from veterinarians and anxious dog owners throughout the state who are concerned their animals might have contracted the same illness, which can kill in as little as 48 hours from the onset of symptoms, said Erica Pitchford Hawkins, communications director for the department.

“We have had numerous calls from all across the state. We haven’t been tracking them on a map, but they have been from more areas than the two,” she said, referring to Cincinnati and Akron-Canton.

The Veterinarian Information Network, a private membership website for veterinarians, announced Thursday that the state hopes to issue a national news release about the ailment Monday.

Pathologists are looking at a virus diagnosed in several dogs that died in California in the spring that showed symptoms similar to the animals from Cincinnati, Hawkins said Thursday.

“The theory they are working on is the ‘circovirus’ that they are trying to test for. We haven’t gotten anything positive back yet,” she said.

“Until we get that, we still don’t know for sure,” she said, and cautioned pet owners to wait until test results are final.
Circovirus is a novel virus (meaning one not seen before) from “a family of viruses that has not been known to cause disease in dogs prior to this year,” said Melanie Butera, a Canal Fulton veterinarian and owner of Elm Ridge Animal Hospital.

Butera was the first area veterinarian to report to the state that she saw possibly as many as four canine patients with the ailment two weeks ago.

Circovirus was so recently discovered “there is not much at all information about how it is getting around,” Hawkins said.

The Beacon Journal has heard from dozens of people who suspect their pets might have contracted the illness, or recovered or died from it, before or since an article appeared Saturday...

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Natural History of Porcine Circovirus Type 2

Yesterday, we saw the publication, in the UK, of an article covering two of the main issues we have explored here and on the newsgroup over the past 13 years:

the importance of mutated circovirus and the import of pig disease in live movements.

Two subjects were hitherto more or less barred from open discussion in Britain, obviously because of their fundamental significance to the source of the disastrous CSF and FMD epidemics in 2000- 2001 and - even worse - the spread of antibiotic resistance.

This marks a major milestone in the unraveling of a series of purely British cover-ups and scandals, but which carry a deep significance to human health worldwide.

As usual, just a few extracts to illustrate the nature of the content and mark the publication, do read in full here

Natural History of Porcine Circovirus Type 2

02 September 2013

SPAIN - A review published recently by researchers from the Research Centre for Animal Health (CReSA) summarizes current knowledge on the natural history of infection with porcine circovirus type 2 (PCV2) and
related diseases.

The perception of the importance of such pathogenic PCV2 has changed dramatically in the last 15 years.

The ubiquitous nature of the virus, retrospective evidence of this infection long before the disease association (PMWS or PCV2-associated systemic disease)...

...this virus is now considered an important pig pathogen...

...The emergence of the PMWS epidemic as a problem in the late 90s or mid-2000 could be related to a number of known and unknown variables.

Based on available data, international trade of pigs may have played an important role in the dissemination of sensitive pig genetic lines, as well as replacing the PCV2 genotype worldwide (PCV2b on PCV2) during this period.

This article was published in: Segal├ęs J Kekarainen T Cortey, M. The
natural history of Porcine circovirus type 2: From an Devastating
harmless virus to a swine disease?, Veterinary Microbiology, Volume
165, Issues 1-2, 26 July 2013, Pages 13-20.

Tracking antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella from farm to fork.

Fascinating American research, funded by the US army, is now being reported in Britain. The days of British government veterinary cover-ups over animal health are clearly numbered.

From stored samples, new science may well open a window on past scandals. Big money is involved and reform of Defra, the agricultural ministry, now inevitable.

Be sure to read the whole news release here.

Researchers track antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella from farm to fork.

By Jeff Mulhollem
August 29, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Continuing research on Salmonella may enable researchers to identify and track strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria as they evolve and spread, according to researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences...

...Michael DiMarzio, a doctoral candidate in food science working under the direction of Edward Dudley, associate professor and Casida Development Professor of Food Science, developed a method for identifying and tracking strains of Salmonella enterica serological variant Typhimurium as they evolve and spread.

Every year in the United States, the various strains of Salmonella together are responsible for an estimated 1 million illnesses, 20,000 hospitalizations and 400 deaths at an economic cost exceeding $3 billion...

...CRISPRs are present in many foodborne pathogens. The researchers demonstrated that CRISPR sequences can be used to identify populations of Salmonella with common antibiotic-resistance patterns in both animals and humans.

"Specifically, we were able to use CRISPRs to separate isolates by their propensity for resistance to seven common veterinary and human clinical antibiotics," DiMarzio said. "Our research demonstrates that
CRISPRs are a novel tool for tracing the transmission of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium from farm to fork."

DiMarzio found that several subtypes of Salmonella Typhimurium showed up repeatedly in the frozen collection of Salmonella samples taken from cows, pigs and chickens in Penn State's Animal Diagnostic Laboratory. In this case, researchers looked at 84 unique Salmonella Typhimurium isolates collected from 2008 to 2011.

"We know those strains are widely disbursed, and the thing they have in common is that they have noticeably higher levels of antibiotic resistance," he said. "So we examined clinical samples of Salmonella taken from humans, and it turned out that we see an overlap -- the ones we see in humans are the ones we see a lot in animals. You would expect that, but it is confirmation that our method works."...