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Longitudinal Investigation of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Piglets


J. Scott Weese. Department of Pathobiology, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada N1G2W1. Tel.: 519 824 4120, extn 54064; Fax: +519-824-5930; E-mail:


Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has emerged as an important public health concern and pigs have been implicated in human infections. Cross-sectional studies have demonstrated that MRSA can be commonly found in pigs internationally, but little is known about age-related changes in MRSA colonization. This study evaluated MRSA colonization in piglets in a longitudinal manner. Serial nasal swabs were collected from piglets born to 10 healthy sows. The prevalence of MRSA colonization on days 1, 3, 7, 14 and 21 was 1% (1/100), 6.2% (3/97), 8.5% (8/94), 4.4% (4/91) and 20% (18/91) respectively, with an overall pre-weaning prevalence of 34.5%. The prevalence on days 28, 42, 56 and 70 was 34% (31/91), 65% (57/88), 50% (44/88) and 42% (36/87) respectively, with an overall post-weaning prevalence of 85%. Eighty-four percent of piglets from negative sows and 100% of piglets from positive sows that survived at least until the time of weaning were colonized with MRSA at one or more times during the study. There was a significant association between sow and piglet colonization. The age of the piglet was significantly associated with the probability of colonization. No piglets or sows received antimicrobials during the study period. These results indicate that age must be considered when designing surveillance programmes and interpreting results of different studies on MRSA.

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