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Int J Food Microbiol. 2007 Apr 20;115(3):290-6. Epub 2007 Jan 16.

Occurrence, characterization and antimicrobial resistance of enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus aureus isolated from meat and dairy products.

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Department of Health and Animal Welfare, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, 70010 Valenzano (Bari) Italy.


Staphylococcus aureus is considered to be one of the leading causes of food-borne illnesses. Milk, dairy products and meats are often contaminated with enterotoxigenic strains of this bacterium. Foodstuff contamination may occur directly from infected food-producing animals or may result from poor hygiene during production processes, or the retail and storage of foods, since humans may carry the microorganism. The number of S. aureus strains that exhibits antimicrobial-resistance properties has increased, together with the potential risk of transmitting the same properties to the human microflora via foods or inducing infections hard to be treated. This paper reports the results of a 3-year survey (2003-2005) on the occurrence of S. aureus in meat and dairy products. Of 1634 samples examined, 209 (12.8%) were contaminated with S. aureus. A total of 125 enterotoxigenic S. aureus strains were biotyped and their antimicrobial resistance pattern tested. Most of the isolated strains produced SED (33.6%), followed by SEA (18.4%), SEC (15.2%), SEB (6.4%) and belonged mainly to the Human ecovar (50.4%), followed by Ovine (23.2%), Non-Host-Specific (17.6%), Bovine (7.2%) and Poultry-like (1.6%) ecovars. Finally, the 68.8% analysed strains showed antimicrobial resistance properties at least at one of antibiotics tested. Human biotype showed antimicrobial resistance at more than one antibiotic than the other biotypes (p<0.05). The results provided evidence that the presence of enterotoxigenic and antimicrobial resistant strains of S. aureus has become remarkably widespread in foods. This calls for better control of sources of food contamination and of the spread of antimicrobial-resistance organisms.

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