Superbug ‘timebomb’ fears as first case of MRSA in pigs found in Northern Ireland
‘We are sitting on a timebomb waiting to explode. Sooner or later bacteria will transfer from animals to humans, causing infections’
By Linda Stewart
29 July 2014
The superbug MRSA has been found in a piglet in Northern Ireland – the first case of its kind in the UK.
The find has prompted calls for the Government to take action against overuse of antibiotics on farms and carry out a full MRSA survey of the pig industry.
The piglet was one of a group of five postweaning animals examined by the Omagh disease surveillance laboratory of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in May.
The animals had had a history of pneumonia and wasting, and the herd had shown 10% mortality over the previous two to three months.
A report in the veterinary record said MRSA – which is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin – was first identified in livestock in The Netherlands in 2003 and was associated with pigs, pig farmers and cattle.
It has since become widespread in intensively farmed pigs, poultry and veal calves in many European countries and North America, but this is the first time a case has been reported in pigs in the UK.
Alison Craig, campaign manager for the Alliance To Save Our Antibiotics, said: “The finding of MRSA in a UK pig has to kick-start the Government into finally taking action against the overuse of antibiotics in farming.”