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Food Microbiol. 2012 Oct;32(1):202-5. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2012 May 9.

Prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) in food samples associated with foodborne illness in Alberta, Canada from 2007 to 2010.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology & Infectious Diseases, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Consumption of foods containing Staphylococcus aureus can cause severe gastro-intestinal illness. Given the fact that over the past decade, Canada has seen increasing rates of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) carriage and infection, the objective of this study was to investigate the impact of methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) and MRSA on foodborne illness in Alberta, Canada. Between January 2007 and December 2010, there were 693 food samples associated with foodborne investigations submitted to the Alberta Provincial Laboratory for Public Health (ProvLab). These foods were screened for: Bacillus cereus, Clostridium perfringens, S. aureus, Aeromonas spp., Campylobacter spp., Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Shigella spp., and Yersinia spp. S. aureus was identified in 10.5% (73/693) of samples, and of these, 59% (43/73) were co-contaminated with at least one other organism on the screening panel. The S. aureus positive samples included 29 meat, 20 prepared foods containing meat, 11 prepared foods not containing meat, 10 dairy, and three produce. Methicillin-resistance was not detected in any isolates tested. These findings indicate that the presence of S. aureus in food associated with foodborne investigations is a cause for concern, and although MRSA was not found, the potential for outbreaks exists, and ongoing surveillance should be sustained.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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