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Effect of a disinfection strategy on the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus CC398 prevalence of sows, their piglets and the barn environment



Larissa J. Pletinckx, Department HIVB, Catholic University College South-West-Flanders (KATHO), Wilgenstraat 32, 8800 Roeselare, Belgium. E-mail:



To assess, in a cleaned and disinfected barn environment, the efficacy of an animal disinfection strategy to reduce the livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) prevalence in sows, their offspring and the barn environment.

Methods and Results

On each farm, six sow rounds were sampled; sows were divided into either a test or control group. Per round, 20 sows and 40 of their piglets were sampled at different time points together with the barn environment. The disinfection strategy of the test groups consisted of washing the sows with a shampoo followed by disinfection of the skin with a solution containing chlorhexidine digluconate and isopropanol. On the first day of disinfection and 6 days after stopping the disinfection, a significant decrease (P < 0·01) of on average 68 and 66% in sow MRSA prevalence was observed on both farms, whereas no decrease was seen in the control groups. Just before weaning, 21–28 days after the end of the disinfection strategy, the difference in MRSA prevalence between both groups was reduced to 4% and no longer significant (P = 0·20). The MRSA prevalence of the piglets in the test groups was significantly lower (26%; P < 0·01) 6 days after the end of disinfection. Just before weaning, this difference was reduced to 5% but still significant (P < 0·01). In the swine nursery unit, no significant difference (P = 0·99) was seen between both groups. Based on semi-quantitative counts, a relationship (r2 > 0·6; P < 0·01) was seen between MRSA contamination in the barn environment and the MRSA prevalence in pigs.


Results show that the tested disinfection strategy reduces temporarily the sow and piglet MRSA status, but does not result in a final reduction in MRSA at weaning or in the nursery unit.

Significance and Impact of the Study

First report on the efficacy of an animal disinfection strategy to reduce LA-MRSA prevalence in sows, their offspring and the barn environment.

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