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Vet Microbiol. 2004 Jun 21;101(2):101-7.

Phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of Staphylococcus aureus isolates from raw bulk-tank milk samples of goats and sheep.

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Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstr. 272, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.


Two hundred and ninety-three isolates of Staphylococcus aureus obtained from 127 bulk-tank milk samples of goats and sheep from Switzerland were characterised by pheno- and genotypic traits. Of the 293 S. aureus isolates, 193 (65.9%) were egg yolk-negative and 15 (5.1%) were negative for clumping factor and/or protein A determined by a latex agglutinating test system. For 285 isolates, PCR amplification of the 3' end of the coagulase gene showed a single amplicon. Five differently sized PCR products of 500, 580, 660, 740 and 820 bp were distinguished. In 191 isolates (n = 293) staphylococcal enterotoxin (SE) genes were detected: 123 isolates tested positive for SEC gene, 31 for SEG gene, 28 for SEA gene, 26 for SEJ gene, 24 for SEI gene, 4 for SEB gene and 4 for SED gene. Furthermore, 126 isolates were positive for the gene encoding the toxic shock syndrome toxin 1. Coagulase gene restriction profile analysis of the 145 isolates harbouring SEA or SEC genes revealed six different patterns using AluI and five different patterns using HaeIII. In summary, within these two groups, high genotypic uniformity within the different sized coagulase gene amplicons was demonstrated. This is the first study providing comprehensive characterisation data of S. aureus strains originating from bulk-tank milk samples of goats and sheep. Remarkable differences in phenotypic traits between S. aureus originating from goats and sheep and bovine milk were found. Moreover, the high prevalence of toxin-producing S. aureus may be important as it is relevant to food hygiene.

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