Clin Microbiol Infect 2011; 17: 633–639
The epidemiology of methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) in Africa is poorly documented. From January 2007 to March 2008, 555 S. aureus isolates were collected from five African towns in Cameroon, Madagascar, Morocco, Niger, and Senegal; among these, 456 unique isolates were susceptible to methicillin. Approximately 50% of the MSSA isolates from each different participating centre were randomly selected for further molecular analysis. Of the 228 isolates investigated, 132 (58%) belonged to five major multilocus sequence typing (MLST) clonal complexes (CCs) (CC1, CC15, CC30, CC121 and CC152) that were not related to any successful methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) clones previously identified in the same study population. The luk-PV genes encoding Panton–Valentine leukocidin (PVL), present in 130 isolates overall (57%), were highly prevalent in isolates from Cameroon, Niger, and Senegal (West and Central Africa). This finding is of major concern, with regard to both a source of severe infections and a potential reservoir for PVL genes. This overrepresentation of PVL in MSSA could lead to the emergence and spread of successful, highly virulent PVL-positive MRSA clones, a phenomenon that has already started in Africa.