Thursday, 2 June 2011


Conventional MRSA is most commonly found in hospitals

Friday June 3,2011

By Dana Gloger

BRITISH milk has become infected with the deadly MRSA superbug for the first time. The strain is resistant to antibiotics and cannot be detected by standard tests because its genetic make-up is so unusual.

The bug is already infecting humans, with 15 cases in England and 12 in Scotland. Scientists at Cambridge University discovered the bug in cow’s milk while researching an unrelated infection in the animals’ udders.

They found evidence of humans and cows with exactly the same sub-type of the new MRSA strain, which they said suggested transmission between animals and people. It is thought the bug has been spread by farm workers.

Conventional MRSA is most commonly found in hospitals but the scientists, whose study is published today in medical journal The Lancet, discovered that the DNA of the new strain is different.

This means existing tests cannot pick it up. Scientists are now frantically trying to develop a new testing system. Experts are still attempting to assess the public health risk but have said there is no threat to the safety of milk and dairy products because pasteurising should kill the bug.

Dr Mark Holmes, who led the research, said cases of the new strain were rising. “But we are fairly sure in the last three or four years there haven’t been any deaths attributable to this new MRSA.”

The Soil Association called for an immediate ban on the routine use of antibiotics on animals “even if that means milk has to cost a few pennies more. That would be a very small price to pay for maintaining the efficacy of these life-saving drugs.”

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