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Zoonoses Public Health. 2012 Mar;59(2):144-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2011.01428.x. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

The prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus colonization in feedlot cattle.

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Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada.


Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an important human pathogen and recent evidence has implicated food animals in the epidemiology of human infections in some regions. While the role of food in MRSA transmission and human health relevance are unclear, MRSA can be found in retail meat products internationally, including beef, yet there has been minimal investigation of MRSA in beef cattle. This study involved screening feedlot cattle for nasal and gastrointestinal colonization with MRSA shortly before the time of slaughter. Methicillin-resistant S. aureus was not isolated from any of 491 nasal swabs and 488 faecal samples. This finding is in contrast to studies that have isolated MRSA from retail beef in Canada, performed in the same laboratory using comparable culture techniques. The reason for this discrepancy is unclear but it demonstrates that further study of MRSA in livestock as well as slaughter, processing and retail environments is needed to elucidate the epidemiology of MRSA contamination of meat.

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