The UK Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) has announced that it has identified the presence of a strain of Livestock-Associated Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) in poultry on a farm in East Anglia. This is thought to be the first time that MRSA has been found in poultry in the UK.
It is reported that the bacteria were detected in turkeys and chickens destined for local retail sale and that two thirds of the turkeys at the farm were found to be infected. It is thought that hundreds of birds may already have been sold.
The Food Standards Agency has sought to reassure consumers that the health risk is minimal. Director of Policy Steve Wearne said: “Any risk of contracting MRSA through meat from animals is very low when usual good hygiene and thorough cooking practices are observed. All poultry should be handled hygienically and cooked thoroughly to destroy any bacteria that may be present.”
According to Public Health England, LA-MRSA rarely causes disease in humans and symptoms usually clear up within 24 hours. The strain of LA-MRSA present in the poultry has been characterised as sequence type (ST) 398, which is not normally associated with serious clinical infections and is not a cause of special concern.
The remaining poultry at the farm can now be slaughtered and sold, after which the premises will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to prevent re-colonisation of further birds when the farm is re-stocked. The AHVLA will then carry out tests to check that the farm has been successfully decontaminated.
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