MRSA also occasionally found in Finnish pork meat


<p>Antibiotic-resistant MRSA bacteria may also occasionally be found in Finnish pork meat. The Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira is about to complete a survey on the occurrence of MRSA bacteria in fresh pork meat sold at retail stores. The transmission of MRSA from meat to people is not considered to be a major risk as long as meat is handled hygienically and cooked thoroughly.</p>

During 2015, Evira will analyse a total of 300 samples of fresh pork meat for the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacterium. Its occurrence has not previously been so extensively studied in Finland. Of the 275 meat samples mostly of domestic origin analysed by November 2015, six was found to contain MRSA. Five of these samples were Finnish meat. Test results for the last samples will be ready by the end of January 2016.

MRSA isolated so far are of the type commonly found in pigs. MRSA rarely causes diseases in pigs.

Antibiotics ineffective against MRSA

MRSA first became known as hospital bacteria. Antibiotics in the penicillin group are ineffective against it. The major risks for humans relate to surgical operations and the treatment of wounds.

“The occurrence of MRSA infections in pig farms is a new phenomenon even on a global scale. It is probable that the bacterium would not have been found in pork as late as ten years ago,” says Professor Anna-Liisa Myllyniemi, Head of Evira's Food and Feed Microbiology Research Unit.

Thorough cooking destroys the bacterium

MRSA bacteria are destroyed when pork is heated to at least 75°C. Good kitchen and food hygiene is sufficient for preventing transmission. People can get MRSA from meat via direct contact.

“In Finland, the occurrence of MRSA in fresh pork is considerably more rare than in Denmark, for example, where MRSA has been found in 20 to 30 per cent of pork samples,” says Senior Researcher Suvi Nykäsenoja

Disease protection in pig farms is crucial

MRSA can spread from one animal to another and from one farm to another. MRSA can also be transmitted by humans from one animal and pig farm to another. The spreading can be prevented by means of disease protection actions and by avoiding unnecessary transfers of animals between farms. It is also important that those who work with pigs and visit the farms are diligent in wearing protective clothing and observing hand hygiene, among other things.

ESBL monitoring also in progress

During 2015, Evira will also study the occurrence of antibiotic-resistant ESBL producing bacteria in beef and pork as part of an extensive monitoring programme implemented in all EU countries. Of the pork samples analysed by November, only one domestic sample was found to contain bacteria that produce ESBL-like enzymes. A total of 300 fresh pork samples will be analysed. By November, 275 beef samples have been analysedand none of them contained ESBL producing bacteria. Beef samples are not analysed for MRSA.

During 2016, Evira will analyse 300 broiler meat samples for ESBL producing bacteria. The occurrence of E. coli bacteria that produce ESBL or corresponding enzymes in broiler meat was previously studied in 2013.

In 2010, Evira issued guidelines on the prevention and control of MRSA infections in pig farms:  Meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus - recommendations for the prevention and control of the MRSA infection in animals, abstract is in English.

Frequently asked questions about MRSA

Frequently asked questions about ESBL

For more information, please contact:
Head of Research Unit, Professor Anna-Liisa Myllyniemi, tel. +358 400 287 398
Senior Researcher Suvi Nykäsenoja, tel. +358 40 489 3447


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