Tests find killer MRSA bug common in German piggeries

Killer BugsBonn, Germany - Killer staphylococcus germs which defy antibiotics and which are rampant in some hospitals are also widespread on German farm pigs, health officials said Monday.

Spot tests were ordered after last year's revelation that the germs are widespread in Dutch piggeries.

Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was found in 28 out of 40 of the pig farms checked in North Rhine Westphalia state, the state farm services bureau in Bonn said.

The infected animals were otherwise healthy.

German federal health officials say consumers should cook cuts of pork all the way through to avoid infection.

MRSA, a serious problem in the world's hospitals, was first detected in animals in 1972.

A documentary on MRSA, to be aired this Saturday on ARD public TV in Germany, says 35,000 patients catch MRSA every year in German hospitals and it is estimated
1,500 die of it.

Ordinary staphylococcus is found on most people's skin and usually only causes sores and other illnesses when immunity is low.

The documentary said 39 of 122 farm workers in one sample had caught the resistant form, possibly from the pigs.

Methicillin resistance arises when some of the toughest bacteria survive courses of antibiotics administered to humans or animals. (dpa)