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Int J Food Microbiol. 2007 Sep 15;118(2):186-93. Epub 2007 Jul 21.

Characterization of Staphylococcus aureus strains isolated from bovine milk in Hungary.

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Department of Food Processing, Quality Control, and Microbiology, Center of Agricultural Sciences, University of Debrecen, Böszörményi út 138, 4032 Debrecen, Hungary.


Staphylococcus aureus is a major foodborne pathogen due to its capability to produce a wide range of heat-stable enterotoxins. The primary purpose of this research was to characterize S. aureus isolates recovered from mammary quarter milk of mastitic cows and from bulk tank milk produced on Hungarian dairy farms of different sizes. Macrorestriction analysis of chromosomal DNA from S. aureus isolates was performed using the restriction enzyme SmaI followed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). The prevalence rates of nine S. aureus enterotoxin genes (sea, seb, sec, sed, see, seg, seh, sei, and sej) and of the toxic shock syndrome toxin 1 gene (tst) were determined by multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The bulk tank milks of 14 out of 20 farms were contaminated with S. aureus at levels of up to 6.0x10(3 )CFU/ml. Farm size had no significant effect (P>0.05) on the S. aureus counts in bulk milk. The prevalence rates of penicillin resistance were 88.9% and 20.0% among the S. aureus recovered from mastitic quarter milk and bulk tank milk, respectively. After phenotypic characterization, a total of 59 S. aureus isolates were selected for genotyping. PFGE analysis revealed 22 distinct pulsotypes, including 14 main types and 8 subtypes, at a similarity level of 86%. Only one or two main types were observed on each of the farms tested, indicating a lack of genetic diversity among S. aureus isolates within farms, and there were only two pulsotypes which occurred on more than one farm. The PFGE patterns showed genetic relatedness between the S. aureus strains recovered from quarter milk and bulk milk on two large farms, implying that on farms having a high number of mastitic cows, S. aureus from infected udders may contaminate bulk milk and, subsequently, raw milk products. Sixteen (27.1%) of the S. aureus isolates tested by multiplex PCR were found to be positive for enterotoxin genes, with 15 of them carrying just one gene and one strain carrying two genes (seg and sei). The most commonly detected toxin genes were seb, sea, and sec, whereas none of our isolates possessed the see, seh, sej, or tst genes. On 75% of the dairy farms surveyed, no enterotoxigenic staphylococci were recovered from either mastitic quarter milk or bulk tank milk.

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