RUMA Statement on new strain of MRSA

Scientists from the University of Cambridge Veterinary School have published a paper showing that a new strain of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been discovered in milk from dairy cows and in people. The findings have been published in the journal The Lancet. (June 2011)

The research does not indicate where the organism originated – in humans or in cows and more research is required to investigate the epidemiology of the spread of the strain. The authors found that the pasteurisation of milk prevented any risk of infection via the food chain, so there is no risk to consumers of milk and dairy products.

More work will be done to explore the potential risks to farm workers.

RUMA chairman Peter Allen comments: “Dairy cows sometimes need antibiotics to be prescribed by a veterinary surgeon to treat bacterial infection and prevent pain and suffering. RUMA, an alliance of organisations throughout the food chain, was established 13 years ago to promote the responsible, appropriate use of veterinary medicines, including antibiotics, principally through sets of species-specific best practice guidelines.

“RUMA encourages research into understanding the development of antibiotic resistance, which is very complicated. Along with our colleagues in the medical profession, we take very seriously our responsibilities towards making sure these medicines remain effective to treat people and animals in years to come.

“Any antibiotic or veterinary medicine being administered to a food producing animal has strict conditions of use, including appropriate milk and meat withdrawal times Antibiotics are only available under prescription by a veterinary surgeon and the over-riding principle is ‘as little as possible, as much as necessary’”, he said.

The paper ‘Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with a novel mecA homologue emerging in human and bovine populations in the UK and Denmark: a descriptive study’ was published by The Lancet on Friday 3 June 2011.

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