New salmonella strain no problem for farmers

A new “superbug” strain of salmonella has been detected in the UK and Europe but the Veterinary Laboratories Agency says poultry farmers should not be concerned as it has not become established in Europe and can be controlled by good biosecurity.

The new strain of Salmonella Kentucky (S Kentucky) is resistant to ciprofloxacin, the most commonly used antibiotic in treating cases of salmonellosis.

“It seems to be pretty much restricted to Turkey, Egypt and African countries,” said Dr Robert Davis from the VLA. “It has been found in broiler chickens in some of those countries and, of the people who have been reported as having infection across Europe and in the USA, about 90% have visited those countries,”

Spices, meat and other foods from these countries have also been blamed for spreading the virus to Europe, but Dr Davis says the bacterium is not entrenched here.

“I think people are putting two and two together and making five in this. I think they are suggesting the organism has become established in Europe, which it isn’t,” he said. “Certainly we are on the look out for organisms like this and we would stamp them out very quickly if it did come into the country.

“[But] as we get better and better at controlling salmonella in the UK there is a danger of becoming complacent. It’s a reminder to stay vigilant.”

Current vaccines will not protect birds against the new strain of S Kentucky. Other low-level strains of S Kentucky are known to affect flocks in Northern Ireland.

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