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Keywords:

  • MRSA ST398;
  • pigs;
  • multispecies farms

Summary

During the last few years, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) ST398 has been isolated frequently from livestock, especially from pigs and to a lesser extent from cattle and poultry. To gain insight into the distribution of this bacterium in pig farms versus multispecies farms, 30 Belgian farms (10 pig, 10 pig/poultry and 10 pig/cattle farms) were screened for the presence of MRSA. On each farm, 10 nasal swabs were taken from pigs. When present, cattle (n = 10) were sampled in the nares and poultry (n = 10) in the nares, earlobes and cloaca. A selection of the obtained isolates were further characterized using multilocus sequence typing (MLST), spa typing, SCCmec typing, pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. On 26 of 30 farms, MRSA was isolated from pigs. Furthermore, MRSA was also isolated from poultry and cattle on one pig/poultry and five pig/cattle farms, respectively. All tested MRSA isolates belonged to ST398. Eight spa types (t011, t034, t567, t571, t1451, t2974, t3423 and t5943) were detected, among which t011 predominated. SCCmec cassettes type IVa and V were present in 20% and 72% of the isolates, respectively. When combining the results of the two remaining typing methods, PFGE and MLVA, eighteen genotypes were obtained of which one genotype predominated (56% of the positive farms). All MRSA isolates were resistant to tetracycline. Resistance to trimethoprim, aminoglycosides, macrolides, lincosamides, fluoroquinolones and chloramphenicol was also observed. In conclusion, there was no effect of the farm type on the MRSA status of the pigs. A statistically significant difference was observed when comparing the pig/poultry or the pig/cattle MRSA status on the multispecies farms. Additionally, a wide variety of MRSA ST398 strains was found within certain farms when combining different typing methods.