For several years now, doctors and veterinarians have been voicing concerns about the proliferation of multi-resistant bacteria.
MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, is a bacteria that does not respond to treatment by many commonly-used antibiotics and can cause a variety of problems ranging from skin infections and sepsis to pneumonia and bloodstream infections.
Pigs are prone to a particular strain of MRSA known as CC398 and this has cost a number of human lives worldwide. According to figures from the animal welfare organisation Dyrenes Beskyttelse, Danish farmers rear over 30 million pigs every year and Denmark has by far the greatest number of pigs compared to the size of the population of any country in the world, so there is certainly room for concern.
In 2006 nobody in Denmark had been diagnosed with MRSA CC398. Today, up to 12,000 Danes are infected and most of them are unaware of it. So far, four people in Denmark have died as a result of the infection since 2012, reports DR Nyheder.
In order to combat the spread of MRSA, an expert group was formed, but this is now in danger of being disbanded. A number of politicians are unhappy with this, including Andreas Steenberg, who is the food spokesperson for Radikale.
“There’s a lack of awareness amongst the public and also here in Christiansborg about what to do about these multi-resistant bacteria – in other words, bacteria that can’t be killed off by penicillin,” said Steenberg.
“This is one of the greatest health problems we face in Denmark and also worldwide because it is a frightening thought that we could suddenly die as a result of a completely ordinary disease.”
Make it permanent
Radikale wants to make the expert group permanent as part of negotiations on a new veterinary bill and Venstre are receptive to the plan – as is the representative of the expert group from the Danish association of veterinarians, Carsten Jensen.
“In a permanent body you have a specific supervisory group that can step in before there’s a problem, whereas if you establish an ad hoc group in connection with an existing problem, you could well be lagging behind from the start,” said Jensen.
Socialdemokratiet would like to take the idea even further. They are in favour of an expert advisory group but feel that it should have wider powers.
“We would like to see a completely independent veterinary policy council that is capable of taking part in the wider debate about issues such as MRSA but could also give us advice regarding other areas in the field,” said the party’s food spokesperson Simon Kollerup.