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J Clin Microbiol. 2011 Mar;49(3):1030-3. doi: 10.1128/JCM.00493-10. Epub 2011 Jan 12.

Persistence of livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in field workers after short-term occupational exposure to pigs and veal calves.

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Centre for Infectious Disease Control Netherlands, RIVM (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment), Bilthoven, The Netherlands.


The prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriage in pig and veal calf farmers in the Netherlands is estimated at 25 to 35%. However, no information is available about MRSA carriage in humans after short-term occupational exposure to pigs or veal calves. This study examines the prevalence and duration of MRSA acquisition after short-term intensive exposure to pigs or veal calves for persons not exposed to livestock on a daily basis. The study was performed with field workers who took samples from the animals or the animal houses in studies on MRSA prevalence in pig and veal farms. They were tested for MRSA by taking nasal samples before, directly after, and 24 h after they visited the farms. There were 199 sampling moments from visits to 118 MRSA-positive farms. Thirty-four of these visits (17%) resulted in the acquisition of MRSA. Thirty-one persons (94%) appeared negative again after 24 h. There were 62 visits to 34 MRSA-negative farms; none of the field workers acquired MRSA during these visits. Except for that from one person, all spa types found in the field workers were identical to those found in the animals or in the dust in animal houses and belonged to the livestock-associated clone. In conclusion, MRSA is frequently present after short-term occupational exposure, but in most cases the strain is lost again after 24 h.

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