More money needed to rid Denmark of infected pigs

The allocated money will need to be at least doubled

Previous estimates regarding how many pigs are infected with MRSA CC398 in Denmark were lower than the real picture, thus blowing out plans for an already pricey solution.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration estimated that it would cost 3.5 billion kroner to rid pig farms of the bacteria. However, according to veterinarian Per Henriksen, that price was based on an assumption that only 20 percent of pig farms were infected. 

The number, according to an experts' report published in December, shows the real number is actually more than triple the estimate, as 68 percent of finisher herds and 63 percent of breeding herds are infected.

"Therefore, we now know that the price will be higher than 3.5 billion kroner," Henriksen told Ingeniøren. "I dare not say that you just need to multiply by three to get the right price, but the price will be at least double the 3.5 billion and perhaps even more."

READ MORE: Drug-resistant swine bacteria out of control, says professor

Not following Norway
Norway, so far, is the only country to have eradicated MRSA in its pigs, which it did by disinfecting pigsties and barns and replacing infected pigs with healthy, non-infected ones.

The Danish group of experts behind the report did not include a comprehensive reorganisation and eradication policy like that of Norway in its recommendations.

Danish pig farms are larger and more numerous than those of Norway, and thus the already expensive actions would be prohibitive to implement in Denmark. One of the experts in the group, Professor Niels Toft, said it would be difficult for Danish pig farms to compete with foreign countries.

Dan Jørgensen, the food and agriculture minister, is slated to present an action plan this month to curb MRSA infection in pig farms.

What is MRSA? 
The MRSA found in pigs is a group of bacteria resistant to multiple types of antibiotics. While the bacteria is no threat to healthy people, it can seriously affect people with weakened immune systems.

According to the Statens Serum Institut (SSI), five people have died after being infected with pig MRSA in Denmark. SSI stated that 1,273 people in Denmark were diagnosed as carriers of pig MRSA in 2014, double the amount of 2013, and doctors estimate the real number of carriers in Denmark could be as high as 12,000.