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Reduced in vitro adherence of Staphylococcus species to feline corneocytes compared to canine and human corneocytes


Dr Neil McEwan, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Small Animal Teaching Hospital, The University of Liverpool, Leahurst, Chester High Road, Neston, Wirral CH64 7TE, UK. E-mail:


It is apparent that in-contact humans and animals exchange commensal staphylococci. Previous in vitro studies, however, indicate that staphylococci preferentially adhere to corneocytes from host species. This study compared adherence of meticillin-sensitive and -resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA/MRSA), S. intermedius, S. felis and S. hominis to feline, canine and human corneocytes acquired from 10 healthy subjects using adhesive tape discs. Adherent bacteria were counted using an image processing and analysis programme. Mean adherence of MSSA (P = 0.0009), MRSA (P = 0.0162) and S. intermedius (P = 0.0117), but not S. felis or S. hominis, to feline corneocytes was significantly lower than that to canine and human corneocytes. All the isolates had similar adherence to both human and canine corneocytes. S. felis was the most adherent species to feline corneocytes followed by S. intermedius, and then MSSA, MRSA and S. hominis. For dogs and humans, S. intermedius and S. felis were the most adherent, followed by MRSA and MSSA, and then S. hominis. These results do not reveal any preferential adherence of staphylococci to canine or human corneocytes. Poor adherence to feline corneocytes could suggest that cats are relatively resistant to pyoderma and cross-species transmission of staphylococci.