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NPA chief exec interviewed on LA-MRSA for Countryfile

13th Apr 2017 / By Alistair Driver

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies has been interviewed about Livestock Associated-MRSA (LA-MRSA) and pork for a feature due to be aired on BBC’s Countryfile programme on Sunday night. 

CountryfileCountryfile is running a feature on LA-MRSA focusing on the Danish pig herd, following a report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism last year

The Countryfile feature follows the rise of cases in Denmark, the impact it has had and what has been done to mitigate the risks. It will also touch on antibiotic use as we are aware that they have interviewed an ‘antibiotic free’ Danish producer.

Zoe said: “I very much hope they include my contribution because I tried to get the message across that LA-MRSA has not been deemed high risk by the government, and is not the same as hospital associated MRSA, so the public should not be worried. 

“However, as a proactive industry we have worked with government to provide guidance for those working with pigs to reduce risk even further and NPA has developed an imports protocol in conjunction with the UK breeding companies, which is now mandatory under Red Tractor.

“It details testing that should be considered for many key diseases that we don’t wish to import, including LA- MRSA, when anyone is bringing in live breeding animals or semen from outside the UK.”

“We have only seen a handful of cases of LA-MRSA in the UK - officially six in pigs. Hospital surveillance has picked up very few cases and none that are associated with people working directly with livestock. 

“In addition, as the recent Food Standards Agency MRSA risk assessment confirmed, there has never been a single case documented of LA-MRSA being contracted by anyone eating meat products from anywhere in the world.  “

You can see our detailed briefing on LA-MRSA here.

NPA official statement on LA-MRSA 

“CC398 is considered by Defra, FSA and the Department of Health to be low risk to public and animal health, and not a food safety issue. 

“Although LA-MRSA has only been documented in six UK pig cases to date, UK pig producers are aware of public concern and are keen to ensure it doesn’t become a feature of pig farms here.  

“Because the presence of CC398 does not relate to antibiotic use on that farm and can arrive having developed resistance elsewhere or even in another country, biosecurity advice is being given to prevent spread within UK farms and abattoirs, and we recommend that all imported pigs are tested.”

  • LA-MRSA is of negligible risk to the health of the general public, with the main risk being to agricultural workers with prolonged exposure to livestock in agricultural workers. Last year the VMD/Defra published guidance for those who work with livestock and in abattoirs
  • Dutch and Danish farms have a high prevalence of LA-MRSA, while significant reductions in antibiotic use in farming have been made. The UK retains a low prevalence of LA-MRSA having had only two cases confirmed in pigs in East Anglia and four in Northern Ireland.
  • Presence of resistance to antibiotics in LA-MRSA cannot be directly attributed to malpractice in use of antibiotics in the country where it is detected, since LA-MRSA retains the resistance genes even when the bacteria may not have been exposed to the antibiotic. 
  • Defra and the National Pig Association recommend that anyone importing pigs to Britain should have them screened for LA-MRSA colonisation infection. The National Pig Association Imports Protocol, which is a requirement under Red Tractor Assurance (92% of the pigs produced in the UK), recommends that live pigs intended for import and the herds from which they originate are tested for MRSA.
  • The Government is currently reviewing options for increased surveillance of LA-MRSA, which will be proportionate to the very low health risk.
  • There is no specific UK or EU legislation for the control of MRSA in companion animals or livestock. Government is constantly reviewing the range of surveillance and control options available for new and emerging disease situations, including those involving AMR, but clearly such measures must be demonstrably proportionate to the risk to human and animal health.
  • LA-MRSA is considered to be of low risk to public and animal health and it is not a food safety concern.