Danish MRSA pork found in Sweden

A random sampling of Danish pork sold in Stockholm supermarkets found the resistant MRSA bacteria in one in every five packages.

Danish MRSA pork found in Sweden
One in every five packs of Danish pork sold in both Denmark and Sweden has been found to contain MRSA Photo: Kristoffer Juel Poulsen/Scanpix
The massive increase in the prevalence of MRSA in Denmark is also affecting Swedish consumers. A study carried out by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter in tandem with Sweden’s National Veterinary Institute (Statens veterinärmedicinska) found that four of 20 packages of Danish pork bought throughout the Stockholm area contained the resistant MRSA bacteria.
A random sampling of German pork found the presence of MRSA in just one of 20 packages.  
A similar test in Denmark found the same prevalence of the bacteria. The Technical University of Denmark analysed 100 packages of Danish-produced pork and found the MRSA 398 bacteria in 21 of them. That represented a steep increase from just five years ago when a similar analysis found the presence of MRSA in just five percent of Danish pork products. 
Pigs do not become ill from MRSA and the bacteria is not particularly dangerous for people who are healthy. But for people who are already feeling weak or poorly, exposure to the bacteria can lead to blood poisoning and in the worst cases death.

Two leading experts concluded in August that up to 12,000 people are currently infected with MRSA 398 in Denmark, a variant that can be transmitted from livestock to humans. 
With the Swedish findings, officials there are concerned. 
"It's unlikely that you would become infected through meat but it is unpleasant to know that there are resistant bacteria in the food that you buy," Olov Aspevall, chief physician of the Swedish Public Health Agency (Folkhälsomyndigheten) told Dagens Nyheter.
Last year Sweden imported 142,000 tonnes of pig products, with three quarters of that amount coming from Denmark and Germany.  
The prevalence of MRSA among Danish pigs has already led Norway’s largest retailer to consider a stop of all imports of Danish pork

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Denmark raises fence on German border to prevent swine fever

In a bid to protect its pork industry, Denmark began building a fence on Monday along its border with Germany to keep out wild boar infected with the African swine fever virus.

Denmark raises fence on German border to prevent swine fever
Work begins on Denmark's 'wild boar fence' on the border with Germany. Photo: Frank Cilius/Scanpix 2019

The 70-kilometre fence is a precautionary measure and expected to be completed in the autumn.

“The fence and our increased efforts to hunt wild boar will break the chain of infection so there is less risk of African swine fever spreading to Denmark,” Environment and Food Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said.

There are “11 billion good reasons to do everything we can to prevent African swine fever reaching Denmark,” he added, in reference an estimated potential cost to Denmark of managing an outbreak.

The virus is not harmful to humans but causes haemorrhagic fever in pigs and wild boar that almost always ends in death within days.

It was first spotted in Poland in 2014 when infected wild boar entered from neighbouring Belarus.

Belgium reported its first case in September near the borders with Luxembourg and France, prompting it to carry out a preventive pig slaughter and set up an exclusion zone.

No cases have been reported in Germany.

The Danish wild boar fence has previously received criticism from environmental organisations, who have decried it as ineffective and of greater symbolic than practical effect.

A farmers’ association representative said that the fence was one of a number of measures that would provide reassurance for agricultural workers.

“This is part an insurance policy against African swine flu. You would also insure your house against fire, even though it will probably never burn down,” Mogens Dall of the LandboSyd association told Ritzau.

Denmark is one of Europe's main pork exporters, raising 28 million pigs per year across some 5,000 farms.

Pork accounts for five percent of Danish exports, or 30 billion kroner (four billion euros) in 2016.

In France, the army was in early January called in to help hunters cull thousands of wild boar near the Belgian border. A fence is also in the process of being raised.