Vets in Northern Ireland have reported what is thought to be the UK’s first case of the MRSA bacterium in a pig.

The disease is potentially fatal to human beings and it is resistant to a number of modern antibiotics making it difficult to treat.

The MRSA bacterium was isolated in a piglet which was one of a group of five submitted to the Omagh disease surveillance laboratory of the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in May 2014.

The farm had recorded 10% piglet post-weaning mortality due to pneumonia and wasting over the previous two to three months.

See also: MRSA found on UK poultry farm

In a statement released on 28 July in the Veterinary Record journal vets said: “We wish to report the isolation of livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) from a postweaning piglet in Northern Ireland.

“We believe this to be the first reported isolation of LA-MRSA from a pig in the UK.”

It added that the MRSA ST398 was relatively common in other European member states.

Abattoir tests had isolated the disease in 61% of Spanish pigs, 60% of pigs in Germany and 39% of Dutch pigs.

All you need to know about MRSA