Mystery remains over location of turkey MRSA outbreak

Turkey producers remain in the dark about the location of a low risk MRSA outbreak in East Anglia

Turkey producers remain in the dark about the location of a low risk MRSA outbreak in East Anglia - Credit: PA

Specialist Norfolk poultry auctioneer Fabian Eagle says he has not been given any details of the country's first case of low-risk MRSA in turkeys.

Mr Eagle, a national member of the poultry industry's stakeholder group, said: 'We've been kept totally in the dark. The AHVLA (Animal Health Veterinary Laboratory Agency) are keeping everything close to their chest,' said Mr Eagle. 'I understand that the birds are safe to continue in the food chain,' added Mr Eagle, of the Poultry Farm, North Pickenham, near Swaffham.

The first case, which was found in a single turkey on an East Anglian farm, followed routine testing for another poultry disease. When this case of low-risk Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) was identified, further tests were carried out and two-thirds of the flock was also found to be infected. It was not found in geese on the same farm.

Officials from AHVLA declined to identify the holding and stressed that there would be more surveillance, full cleansing and disinfection once there were no longer any birds on the premises.

'Then we'll carry out more sampling and testing just to confirm that MRSA is no longer present on the farm,' said a spokesman.

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Brian Finnerty, regional spokesman for the National Farmers' Union, said he had also not heard anything about the location of the outbreak. He said: 'At a poultry meeting of Norfolk producers yesterday, there was hardly any discussion, if any, because, to be honest, it is not seen as a particularly serious problem. And in any case it is not a notifiable disease.'

Health officials say there is a very low risk when good hygiene and thorough cooking practices were observed.

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