The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) have sought to add clarity to the situation surrounding the finding of livestock-associated MRSA in piglets in eastern England.
A joint statement, issued today, from BVA and PVS reads: “While there is no official requirement to test for MRSA, the pig industry is actively promoting testing of live pig imports or the herds from which they derive. 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 that LA-MRSA has greater infectivity.”
BVA/PVS also said it was worth noting that whilst 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 that LA-MRSA represents a very low risk to public health,” continued BVA/PVS. “This type of MRSA rarely causes disease in people.
“BVA and PVS are actively concerned with antimicrobial resistance across the majority of species including humans. We have welcomed the UK 5 Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy (2013-2018) and we are firmly of the opinion that the One Health’ approach of medical and veterinary professionals working together will be crucial to the success of the Strategy.”
The two organisations also made the point that UK vets have been at the forefront of responsible use of antibiotics under the RUMA code with both BVA and PVS having issued guidelines to members which firmly state that the antibiotics which are considered critically important should only be used where there is evidence that they are absolutely necessary.