Norway food safety test uncovers new pig superbug outbreaks

By Gerard O’Dwyer, in Helsinki

- Last updated on GMT

The testing programme has detected and verified LA-MRSA infections in 15 pig herds to date
The testing programme has detected and verified LA-MRSA infections in 15 pig herds to date

Related tags Antibiotic resistance Staphylococcus aureus Infection Livestock Pork

A countrywide testing programme by Mattilsynet, Norway’s food safety authority, has uncovered six new pig herds infected by the drug-resistant LA-MRSA (livestock-associated methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) bacteria in what constitutes a new outbreak.

A follow-up national pig herd testing programme is under way, with a focus on the high risk regions of Sør-Trøndelag and Nord-Trøndelag in Trøndelag county, central Norway.

Previous to the latest discoveries, Mattilsynet had confirmed the presence of LA-MRSA in herds on five farms in the Trøndelag region. In total the countrywide and Trøndelag county-focused testing programme has detected and verified LA-MRSA infections in 15 pig herds nationwide to date. The tests are being conducted by the National Veterinary Institute (NVI/Veterinærinstituttet) under the direction of Mattilsynet.

Meanwhile, the NVI has tested and cleared a further 15 pig herds of LA-MRSA since 6 March. These herds are all located in the farming regions of Trøndelag and Troms, in northern Norway, where one outbreak has been detected.

Test samples are currently being analysed in relation to 19 other pig herds, and results are expected by 18 March.

A risk analysis produced by the joint expert group established between Mattilsynet and the NVI suggested that the outbreak was not of national proportions, but was largely concentrated on a number of pig farms in certain regions of Trøndelag county.

"We believe from the testing already done and the investigations carried out that the outbreak has been contained. We also believe that we are unlikely to see further positive tests for LA-MRSA,"​ Bjørn Røthe Knudtsen, Mattilsynet’s regional director for mid-Norway, told GlobalMeatNews​.

Mattilsynet inspectors are currently overseeing animal slaughtering, cleaning and disinfection work on all pig farms where LA-MRSA bacteria have been found. Some 10 of the 15 infected herds comprised pigs being fattened for slaughter, while the other five herds consisted of piglets. Two of the infected herds were located on pig farms in Troms and Sør-Trøndelag, while the other 13 were found in herds on farms located in Nord-Trøndelag.

In a drive to support national efforts to prevent LA-MRSA infecting pig herds, Norsvin, Norway’s pig producers association, has proposed a number of measures to promote farm hygiene and control access to pig farms and herds.

Norsvin wants more regular LA-MRSA bacteria testing for farm owners, workers and all those visiting commercial pig farms. Moreover, Norsvin wants mandatory LA-MRSA testing for all farm employees, livestock traders and other professionals that come in to contact with "foreign"​ pig herds or animals while abroad.

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