Ministers Examine Rising MRSA Prevalence in Danish Pigs

DENMARK - Food Minister, Mette Gjerskov, has charged the country's Food and Drug Administration to examine the prevalence of the bacterium, MRSA CC398, in Danish pigs after new figures revealed a doubling of the prevalence of the bacterium in Danish slaughterhouses between 2011 and 2012.
calendar icon 7 February 2013
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New figures from the Food & Drug Administration, shows that 88 per cent of slaughter pigs in Danish abattoirs are infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacterium, MRSA CC398. It has doubled since the previous year, and a new study of pig herds should show whether there has been an increase in the Danish pig farms.

"There are indications that many pigs are infected in the slaughterhouse or on the way to the slaughterhouse but we have to be confident in our case, so I put it here investigation of the Danish stables in time," said Ms Gjerskov.

The authorities already monitor bacteria closely, and there is no evidence to suggest that MRSA infects people when they eat pork. However, MRSA infection is spread from animals to humans by regular contact. The problem is that it is resistant to several types of antibiotic, and it is therefore difficult to treat infections.

"It is an issue we take very seriously. Resistant bacteria are a threat to human health, and the health minister and I have therefore undertaken a number of initiatives to address the problem," said Ms Gjerskov.

The Food Minister, together with the Minister of Health, has set up a task force to come up with concrete suggestions on how we can stop the spread of MRSA from pigs.

In addition, for the next four years, a majority in the Parliament has decided to focus on the responsible use of antibiotics to combat the development of resistance. This includes action against inappropriate use of medication, where all animals in a herd are routinely given antibiotics although not all of them are sick.

The latest figures for the incidence of MRSA CC398 in Danish pig herds from 2010 and 2011. They showed that MRSA CC398 is in 16 per cent of Danish pig herds.

In 2011 and 2012, pigs were tested in the slaughterhouse, revealing that 44 per cent and 88 per cent of those tested in each year, respectively, were positive for MRSA CC398.

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