Resistance to the antibiotic colistin has been found in samples of bacteria from three British pig farms, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has confirmed.
The Animal and Plant Health Agency made the discovery following news in November 2015 that researchers in China had identified resistance to colistin in bacteria found in humans, pigs and chickens.
Colistin belongs to a group of antibiotics called polymixins and is considered one of the last-line drugs, when other antibiotics have failed.
Public Health England says that the discovery in Britain does not pose an immediate health threat to humans because the bacteria in the samples were still treatable with other antibiotics. The Food Standards Agency says the risk from eating pork carrying bacteria resistant to colistin is also very low if the meat is “thoroughly cooked”.
In response to the finding, DEFRA says that it will enhance surveillance for colistin resistance, adding that veterinary prescribers have voluntarily updated prescribing guidelines to restrict use of colistin in animals.