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J Clin Microbiol. 2012 Mar;50(3):688-95. doi: 10.1128/JCM.05214-11. Epub 2011 Dec 14.

Prevalence and characterization of Staphylococcus aureus, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, isolated from bulk tank milk from Minnesota dairy farms.

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Veterinary Population Medicine, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.


Staphylococcus aureus is a common causative agent of bovine mastitis in dairy herds. The emergence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospitals as well as the community is a significant and costly public health concern. S. aureus-related bovine mastitis is a common reason for therapeutic and/or prophylactic use of antibiotics on dairy farms. In this study, herd prevalence of S. aureus, including MRSA, was estimated from bulk tank milk (BTM) from Minnesota farms. A total of 150 pooled BTM samples from 50 farms, collected over 3 seasons (spring, summer, and fall of 2009), were assessed. Herd prevalence of methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) was 84%, while MRSA herd prevalence was 4%. A total of 93 MSSA isolates and 2 MRSA isolates were recovered from 150 BTM samples. Antibiotic susceptibility testing of S. aureus isolates showed pansusceptibility in 54 isolates, resistance to a single antibiotic class in 21 isolates, resistance to two antibiotic classes in 13 isolates, and resistance to ≥3 antibiotics classes and thus multidrug resistance in 5 isolates. The two MRSA isolates displayed resistance to β-lactams, cephalosporins, and lincosamides and were multiresistant. Staphylococcal protein A gene (spa) typing identified spa types t529 and t034 most frequently among methicillin-susceptible isolates, while t121 was observed in MRSA isolates. Seven isolates, including the two MRSA isolates, produced staphylococcal enterotoxins B, C, D, and E on overnight culture. MRSA isolates were further genotyped using multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Of the 2 MRSA isolates, one had a composite genotype profile of MLST ST 5-PFGE USA100-unknown spa type, which has been reported among hospital-associated MRSA isolates, while the second isolate carried the MLST ST 8-PFGE USA300-spa type t121 genotype, commonly identified among community-associated MRSA isolates. These results suggest that MRSA genotypes associated with hospitals and community can be isolated from milk at very low rates.

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