High diversity of Panton–Valentine leukocidin-positive, methicillin-susceptible isolates of Staphylococcus aureus and implications for the evolution of community-associated methicillin-resistant S. aureus

Authors


Corresponding author and reprint requests: S. Monecke, Institute for Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus, Technical University of Dresden, Fetscherstrasse 74, D-01307 Dresden, Germany
E-mail: monecke@rocketmail.com

Abstract

In total, 100 Staphylococcus aureus isolates from diverse cases of skin and soft-tissue infection at a university hospital in Saxony, Germany, were characterised using diagnostic microarrays. Virulence factors, including Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL), were detected and the isolates were assigned to clonal groups. Thirty isolates were positive for the genes encoding PVL. Only three PVL-positive methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) isolates were found, two of which belonged to European clone ST80-MRSA IV and one to USA300 strain ST8-MRSA IV. The remaining methicillin-susceptible PVL-positive isolates belonged to a variety of different multilocus sequence types. The predominant strains were agrI/ST22, agrII/CC5, agrIII/CC30 and agrIV/ST121. In order to check for possible bias caused by regional or local outbreak strains, an additional 18 methicillin-susceptible, PVL-positive isolates from the UK were tested. Approximately two-thirds of the UK isolates belonged to types that also comprised approximately two-thirds of the isolates from Saxony. Some methicillin-susceptible PVL-positive isolates (agrI/ST152, agrIII/ST80 and agrIII/ST96) closely resembled known epidemic community-acquired MRSA (CaMRSA) strains. These findings indicate that the current rise in PVL-positive CaMRSA could be caused by the dissemination of novel SCCmec elements among pre-existing PVL-positive strains, rather than by the spread of PVL phages among MRSA strains.

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