Two thirds of Danish pig farms have MRSA

The food and agriculture minister admits that "previous efforts have not been enough" as a new study shows that the MRSA bacteria is more widespread than believed.

Two thirds of Danish pig farms have MRSA
The food and agriculture minister promised a “comprehensive action plan” to combat MRSA. Photo: Camilla Rønde/Scanpix
The presence of the antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria in Danish piggeries has doubled in just four years. 
An analysis has revealed that MRSA is now present in two out of every three pig production sites in Denmark. 
The new study comes in a year that has seen one food-related scandal after another. Danish consumers have had to deal with listeria outbreaks, salmonella infections and a massive increase in the presence of MRSA CC398, a variant that can be transmitted from livestock to humans. 
According to the Danish State Serum Institute (SSI), the CC398 variant only accounted for two percent of all MRSA cases in 2007 but this year it is up to 35 percent. 
Earlier this year, Henrik Westh, the head of the Capital Region’s MRSA research centre, and Hans Jørn Kolmos, a professor of clinical microbiology at the University of Southern Denmark, said that as many as 12,000 people in Denmark are likely infected with MRSA without knowing it. 
At least two people have died as a result of an MRSA infection.
And a spot check of pork products in Danish supermarkets showed that every fifth pack of pork carries MRSA
Food and Agriculture Minister Dan Jørgensen said that the latest MRSA revelations prove that the status quo is not enough. 
“The experts have provided their suggestions for how we can limit MRSA, but this also proves that there are no quick fixes. For me, it is clear that the previous efforts we have made here in Denmark have not been enough,” Jørgensen wrote in a press release. 
Jørgensen said he would work with parliament to find a “comprehensive action plan” to combat the rising prevalence of MRSA. 

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‘At least four’ babies contract MRSA at Danish hospital

Several cases of infections related to the MRSA bacterium were reported at a neonatal ward at Aalborg University Hospital on Tuesday.

'At least four' babies contract MRSA at Danish hospital
Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix Denmark

At least four newborn babies are reported to have been infected by the bacterium at the hospital's neonatal ward for prematurely born infants, head of department Consultant Pia Sønderby Christensen told Ritzau.

20 patients at the hospital are currently undergoing tests to detect the presence of the bug, with a similar number of recently discharged patients also recalled.

The hospital is now testing newborn babies and parents that have been at the hospital since late February, along with staff, in an effort to track down the source of the bacteria.

“MRSA infections can be treated with antibiotics, so parents needn't be worried.

“It does not commonly give rise to illness, and the bacteria can be treated if symptoms exist,” Christensen said.

The consultant said she expected further infections to be uncovered.

“We currently do not have an overview of how many children are affected. But we are currently investigating this,” she said.

“We are isolating the infected children with their families. So we are separating the department between those with the bacteria and those who do not have it,” the doctor added.

Christensen also said that of the four children in which infection had been found, one had been treated for a skin infection and was now cured.

The remaining three children did not show any symptoms.

“But we expect to find more infected children, since that's often how it is with outbreaks like this. It passes easily between newborn babies,” she said.

READ ALSO: MRSA cases in Denmark doubled in one year