Facts about MRSA

MRSA is a staphylococcus bacterium which is resistant to a certain type of antibiotics. However, MRSA can be treated with other types of antibiotics. Meat can also contain MRSA bacteria but research shows that infection from meat is not a problem.

How is MRSA transmitted?
The infection can be transmitted from pig to pig, from pig to human and from human to human. But MRSA CC398 does not transmit as well between humans as the MRSA types found in humans.  

What is MRSA?
MRSA is an abbreviation for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. Staphylococci is a group of bacteria that constitutes a normal part of the bacterial flora in humans and many animals. They are often found in different places on the skin and in the throat and the nasal cavity.

One fourth of all people have staphylococci in the nose; the rest are infected occasionally and will then get rid of the infection again. In total, 40 and 50 per cent are positive at any given time.
In most cases, staphylococci do not result in disease but may cause abscesses and wound infections. In rare cases, they will cause serious disease in very weak people. For example, blood poisoning (bacteraemia) where the bacterium is spread through the bloodstream and can cause infection in several organs, including inflammation of the heart valves. The mortality for this type of infection is approx. 20 per cent.

MRSA can be treated with other types of antibiotics
Infections with staphylococci are normally treated with a type of penicillin, such as e.g. methicillin. MRSA is resistant to this type of penicillin but can be treated with other types of antibiotics. However, this often means a delay in the correct treatment until MRSA has been established as the cause.

Most types of MRSA have evolved in humans due to the use of antibiotics for humans. A special type of MRSA, MRSA CC398, is found in several animal species. It has become resistant due to the use of antibiotics in animals. It can also be transmitted to people who work with these live animals.
MRSA CC398 can cause the same diseases in humans as other staphylococci but has a lower ability to be transmitted from person to person than the types of staphylococci that are adapted to humans.

Can I become ill from eating meat containing MRSA?
MRSA CC398 can be found in meat but epidemiological analyses and analyses of people who handle meat have shown that food-borne transmission to humans is not a problem.

Read more about MRSA:
The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration
The Statens Serum Institut