New MRSA ‘superbug’ found in cows

A new strain of the MRSA “superbug” has been found in UK cows and is believed to be infecting humans.

Experts say the new strain has emerged because of the over-use of antibiotics by dairy farmers - however there has been no mention as yet of beef cows.

Researchers, writing in the Lancet Infectious Diseases Journal, said however there is no additional health risk from eating milk and dairy products.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a drug-resistant form of a usually harmless bacterium which can be deadly when it infects wounds.

The Soil Association has now called for a complete ban on routine use of antibiotics in farming and director Helen Browning said: “Dairy systems are becoming ever more antibiotic-dependent. We need to get farmers off this treadmill, even if that means that milk has to cost a few pennies more”.

Dr Holmes and his colleague Dr Laura Garcia-Alvarez discovered the new strain while studying a bacterium known to cause mastitis in cows.

They found that, like other MRSA strains, it was resistant to the most commonly used antibiotics. However, the bug was found to be genetically very different.

>> Pig exposé claims MRSA link to antibiotics

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