New Dutch research supports the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics
13 June 2012
New research by Dutch scientists has found much lower levels of antibiotic use and prevalence of MRSA on organic pig farms compared with non-organic pig farms.
Their research indicates that 3% of organic pigs in the Netherlands are carrying livestock-associated MRSA, compared with 38% of non-organic pigs. This type of MRSA was first found in 2003 and is of particular concern due to its ability to spread to humans and cause serious infections.
The research confirms the urgency of calls by the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics – which is made up of the Soil Association, Sustain and Compassion in World Farming - for the government to do more to ensure MRSA doesn’t become a problem in British pigs.
Speaking on behalf of the Alliance, Emma Slawinski from CIWF said “the Dutch research shows that by raising pigs in higher-welfare conditions with bedding such as straw and outdoor access the levels of antibiotic use and of MRSA can be greatly reduced. This benefits human health too, as livestock-associated MRSA has already caused human deaths in Europe.”
The Alliance wants the UK government to:
- Undertake routine surveillance for livestock-associated MRSA in British pigs to ensure that any development can be identified and addressed at an early stage.
- Ensure no live pigs are imported into the UK unless they have been individually tested for MRSA.
- Ensure vets and farm workers from outside the UK, and British farmers and farm workers having contact with farm animals outside the UK, to be screened for livestock-associated MRSA before having contact with British farm animals.
- Require greater efforts by the pig industry to reduce its dependence on antibiotics.
- Ensure more pigs to be reared in well-designed free-range systems and fewer to be kept indoors on concrete without straw
Read more about the research here.