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EFSA Studies MRSA Link of Humans and Livestock

by 5m Editor
31 March 2009, at 11:49a.m.

EU - The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published an opinion on the public health significance of metnicillin-resistant <em>Staphylococcus aureus</em> (MRSA) in animals and foods.

EFSA’s Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) found that while food may be contaminated by MRSA, there is currently no evidence that eating or handling contaminated food may lead to an increased risk of humans becoming healthy carriers or infected with this bacterium. The Panel also concluded that where MRSA prevalence in food-producing animals is high, people in contact with live animals, especially farmers, veterinarians and their families, are at greater risk than the general population.

In the case of food-producing animals, a specific type of MRSA, called CC398, has emerged and is most often carried without symptoms by intensively reared animals. The Panel noted that this strain represents a small proportion of the overall cases of MRSA in the European Union. Various types of MRSA, including CC398, can be found in slaughterhouses and on raw meat, but the Panel stated that, based on current data, the risk of infection for slaughterhouse workers and persons handling meat appears to be low.

Professor Dan Collins, chair of the BIOHAZ Panel, said: “There’s no evidence to date that humans can become infected with the CC398 strain of MRSA from eating contaminated food. Neither is there evidence that this strain has caused food poisoning.”

The Panel further noted that the occurrence of CC398 varies widely throughout Europe. A risk for people in contact with live food-producing animals has been identified and veterinarians and farmers, as well as their families, are at greater risk of becoming carriers or infected than the general population. In affected countries, the CC398 strain is mostly detected in pigs, veal calves, and broiler chickens.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.