Rigsrevision will carry out a preliminary examination of the ministry’s efforts to reduce the spread of the bacteria. If the first examination warrants it, a further and more in-depth investigation will follow.
The Audit Office said that it would look at whether or not the authorities are putting taxpayer money to good use when it comes to the efforts to contain MRSA, which has increased markedly in recent years.
A Rigsrevision official told Politiken that it would investigate why, despite the Danish Food and Veterinary Administration’s (Fødevarestyrelsen) efforts to control MRSA, “the use of antibiotics has risen since 2011 and the number of people infected with swine-MRSA has increased significantly”.
Two leading experts concluded in August that between 6,000-12,000 people are currently infected with MRSA CC398, a variant that can be transmitted from livestock to humans.
CC398 has seen a massive increase in Denmark over the past seven years. According to the State Serum Institute (SSI), the CC398 variant only accounted for two percent of all MRSA cases in 2007 but this year is up to 35 percent. In July alone, 105 people were infected with MRSA – the highest monthly total ever.
Last month, an analysis of pork products in Denmark’s supermarkets found that every fifth pack is contaminated with MRSA. Just five years ago, a similar analysis found the bacteria in just five percent of products.
The consumer council Forbrugerrådet Tænk praised the decision to look at the authorities’ handling of MRSA.
“It’s necessary because we are facing a serious problems with antibiotic resistance. The officials haven’t been able to stop the spread so therefore it is really, really urgent that something is done before even more Danes get infected,” Forbrugerrådet Tænk spokeswoman Camilla Udsen.
Hans Jørn Kolmos, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Southern Denmark and a leading expert on MRSA, has been very vocal in his criticism of both Fødevarestyrelsen and the Danish Health and Medicine Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen).
“Both Fødevarestyrelsen and Sundhedsstyrelsen have massively failed in this instance. They, for one reason or another, have neglected the problem from the start and one is tempted to ask if the authorities are more loyal to the pig industry than to the people who risk becoming ill and even dying from swine MRSA,” Kolmos told Politiken in August.
The food and agriculture minister, Dan Jørgensen, did not offer a comment on Rigsrevision's pending investigation.