MRSA has been identified on a poultry farm in East Anglia, the Food Standards Agency has announced.
The Livestock-Associated Meticillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (LA-MRSA) strain is different to the highly publicised MRSA, which has blighted some healthcare establishments.
The FSA issued a statement last night that downplayed the risk to humans. “Any risk of contracting MRSA through meat from animals with these bacteria is very low when usual good hygiene and thorough cooking practices are observed,” said director of policy Steve Wearne.
All poultry should be handled hygienically and cooked thoroughly to destroy any bacteria that may be present, he added.
The strain identified in East Anglia was relatively widespread in Europe, including countries from which the UK regularly sources meat, and there were no known cases of people contracting MRSA from eating meat, the FSA added.
“There are many different strains of MRSA that cause illness in people but this is not one of the strains that we are overly concerned about given the very low number of clinical infections that have been seen in people,” added Professor Angela Kearns, head of the Staphylococcus Reference Service at Public Health England.
LA-MRSA rarely causes disease in people and in most cases it clears within 24 hours.
Although it can potentially pass from animals to humans via direct contact or dust in animal housing, it is primarily considered an occupational risk for those in contact with livestock, the FSA said.
Poultry accommodation on the affected farm will be cleansed and disinfected once the birds have been slaughtered after which the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency will visit the farm to test whether LA-MRSA remains.