Update on MRSA in the food chain
The group was updated on current issues relating to MRSA in the food chain. Members were reminded that since the last update they received on the incident of LA-MRSA in turkeys on a farm in East Anglia, MRSA had been identified in a piglet in Northern Ireland. The piglet was one of a group of five post weaning animals examined by the Omagh disease surveillance laboratory of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute in May 2014. Findings had been reported in the Veterinary Record. It was noted that from International literature reports of occurrence of LA-MRSA in food animals and farmer workers (workers in the pig industry) were not uncommon in Europe but the finding of MRSA in the food chain the UK was new.
Members were informed that Defra Antimicrobial Resistance Coordination (DARC) Group has been monitoring the issue of MRSA in the food chain. At their recent surveillance meeting they considered the potential contribution of LA-MRSA to human infection in the UK was unclear as was the finding in a recent German study which also concluded that the role of food in transmission was likely to be of minor importance. The DARC surveillance group are currently considering future surveillance options in relation to LA-MRSA with potential options being people who are in contact with animals (farmers, farm workers and practising veterinarians) as they were more likely to be sensitive markers on whether LA-MRSA is transferred to people.
The group was informed that a study has been carried out in the United States on the Quantitative assessment of human MRSA risks from swine (published by the Society for Risk Analysis) and it was proposed that it would be useful for members to see this study and consider the risks in relation to the different exposures.
The group noted the contrast in approach in MRSA monitoring in the food production world and the hospital world. There was discussion on the role whole genome sequencing might play in revealing the direction of travel of MRSA.
Members deliberated on the need for the present quantitative risk assessment on MRSA in the food chain at the EU level to be updated by the appropriate authority in light of the new reports.