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MRSA Conference hailed a success

AROUND 65 delegates attended the long-awaited First International Conference on MRSA in Animals held on the 21st and 22nd June at the Leahurst Campus of the University of Liverpool.

The event, which was organised jointly by the University of Liverpool and The Bella Moss Foundation, brought together some of the veterinary world’s leading authorities on aspects of MRSA and who presented new information of great importance to veterinarians around the globe.

The event was opened by Dr Susan Dawson from the University and Jill Moss, President and founder of The Bella Moss Foundation.

The main speakers included Professor David Lloyd of the Royal Veterinary College, Dr Scott Weese of the Ontario Veterinary College, Professor Wolfgang Witte from Robert Koch Institute, Germany, Dr Tim Nuttall of the University of Liverpool, Dr Mark Enright of Imperial College, London, Professor Tony Hart, also of Liverpool University and Professor Peter Hawkey from the Health protection Agency. Paul Gayford attended the event as the representative of DEFRA and chaired a general discussion at the end of the event.

Jill Moss said: ‘This was an extremely important event for the veterinary world. All aspects of veterinary concern about MRSA were addressed and the information that was presented will have a major impact on veterinary care over the next few years as it filters down to the grass roots.

‘Two very positive things came out of this meeting. The first was that we were able to bring together human health experts as well as those in the veterinary world, and we believe strongly that both need to work in concert to achieve success. The second was that very positive information was presented showing that animals have the ability to overcome MRSA quickly if they are healthy. We were also very pleased to hear of new techniques in analysing MRSA that will improve our ability to deal with it.’

The opening speaker was Professor Lloyd who gave an overview of the situation affecting small animals including the appearance of MRSA around the world. He was followed by Dr Scott Weese whose work demonstrated that colonised horses could rid themselves of MRSA without the use of anti-microbial drugs if the conditions are made right. This was of particular interest to delegates who wanted to know more about the way animals deal with MRSA.

The presentation given by Dr Tim Nuttall was also of great interest as it focused on the procedure that practicing vets could implement in order to drastically reduce the likelihood of having MRSA in their premises.

Dr Mark Enright gave a detailed account of the genetic family tree of the MRSA strains and Professor Wolfgang Witte spoke on the genetic variations seen in strains of MRSA affecting horses in Europe.

Professor Tony Hart gave an account of the situation concerning MRSA in human health care and drew parallels with the situation in veterinary practice, and Professor Peter Hawkey presented on improvements in analysing MRSA in the laboratory.

The event also heard that new MRSA strains continue to appear, that older strains show the ability to develop new defences to antibiotics, and that MRSA rates are increasing even in countries where they are currently low.

At the end of the conference Paul Gayford chaired a round-table discussion of the subjects presented during the event and from which came plans to for a working party to take forward certain aspect of the issues that had been raised.

‘MRSA is no longer seen as something we can ignore or treat lightly,’ added Moss. ‘It is a serious problem that we have to get to grips with, and this event showed that, around the world, researchers and clinicians are working very hard to find the answers we need.’

Moss also said that although the knowledge presented at the conference was important and encouraging, it will take time to reach practicing vets. ‘We want to create a direct link between researchers and practitioners,’ she said, ‘and so our plan is to develop a series of events that are accessible to vets and pet owners because it is only by bringing all sides together that we will make a real difference to the health and treatment of our companion animals.’

‘The event for me personally meant that Bella’s death was not in vain, her photos were on one of the abstract books, her smiling face on the wall in the auditorium, it was if she was looking upon us all – glad that she had played such an important part in benefiting animal health for the future.’

Major support for the event came from DEFRA, Petplan, Bayer Healthcare, Medichem and Vetoquinol.

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Back, from left to right: Mark Dosher, Bella Moss Foundation; Professor Tony Hart, Liverpool Univeristy Head of Microbiology; Professor Peter Hawkey, Health Protection Agency; Dr Jodi Lindsay, St George's Hospital, London; Professor David Lloyd, Royal Veterinary College, London; Dr Leoffler, Royal Veterinary College, London; Dr Angela Kearns, Centre for Infection Health Protection Agency, London; Dr Scott Weese, Ontario Veterinary College, Guelph, Canada; Dr Nicola Williams, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Liverpool University; Dr Susan Dawson; Faculty of Veterinary Science, Liverpool University. Front - Dr Luca Guardabassi, Veterinary pathologist Royal Vet and Agricultural College, Denmark, and Jill Moss President Bella Moss Foundation