Between 6,000 and 12,000 Danes who have never been near a pig farm could be infected with porcine MRSA without knowing it.
Porcine MRSA can be deadly for those already suffering from a disease or who have weakened immune systems. Researchers fear that more deaths from the disease are inevitable.
“It is naive to imagine otherwise,” Henrik Westh, the head the Region Hovedstaden MRSA research centre, told Politiken. “It is simple mathematics.”
Can be transmitted person to person
Together with Hans Jørn Kolmos, a professor of clinical microbiology at Syddansk University, he has calculated the extent of MRSA infection in Denmark.
In July, 104 new patients were reported to be suffering from MRSA.
Each one of the new patients was already suffering from another disease. It has only recently come to light that MRSA can be spread from person to person, not just from pigs to humans.
Many people carry the infection without knowing it, and the bacteria is able to live for weeks on infected surfaces like tabletops and doorknobs.
Authorities not doing enough
Westh and Kolmos have criticised authorities for not doing enough about MRSA, going as far as to say they were “in the pocket” of pig farmers.
Dan Jørgensen, the food minister, said in an email to Politiken that he has a plan in place, but that there is a need for more knowledge about the bacteria before his office can do more.
Health authority Fødevarestyrelsen said they are focusing on keeping MRSA out of hospitals via screening.