The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) have issued a statement about the first two cases of livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) found in pigs in England.

The skin disease was found in piglets from a breeder-finisher farm in eastern England, Defra’s Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) confirmed.

Defra scientists tested two 10-day-old piglets and both were MRSA-positive. Of the 60 pigs with the condition six died.

It is the second case confirmed in the UK after the disease was discovered on a pig from a farm in Northern Ireland last August.

According to the BVA and PVS, while there is no official requirement to test for MRSA, the pig industry is actively promoting testing live pig imports.

“However, with the movement of different livestock species and humans between the UK and countries with high prevalence of LA-MRSA it is disappointing, but perhaps not surprising, to have detected LA-MRSA in pigs in England.

“Some media reports have speculated about the infectivity of the organism. An opportunist infection of the skin or other sites in MSRA-colonised animals is a recognised occurrence and does not, in itself, imply LA-MRSA has greater infectivity.

“It is also worth noting while antimicrobial use has played a role in the emergence of MRSA, its subsequent spread relates mainly to it being a successful bacterial species, not to antimicrobial use. LA-MRSA has been found in animals in which no antimicrobials have been used.

“Public Health England advises LA-MRSA represents a very low risk to public health. This type of MRSA rarely causes disease in people.”
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