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Vet Microbiol. 2013 Mar 23;162(2-4):771-8. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2012.10.001. Epub 2012 Oct 11.

Investigation of the persistence and transmission of MRSA CC 5 in pigs following intra-nasal inoculation.

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  • 1School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.


MRSA CC5 spa type t002 appears to have a broad host range, has been isolated from animals and in-contact humans in Ireland and could potentially become established in pigs in Ireland. The aims of this study were to determine if MRSA CC5 spa type t002 could persist in the tissues of the porcine upper respiratory tract following intra-nasal inoculation; to determine the relative importance of environmental and animal sources of the bacterium in the transmission cycle and to determine the importance of the pharynx as a carriage site of Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA. Twelve pigs were inoculated intra-nasally with MRSA CC5 t002. After 1 or 6 days, the inoculated pigs were removed from the contaminated environment, were washed in an antiseptic solution and placed in a clean house with a group of naive pigs (in-contact group). Another group of naive pigs was placed in the contaminated environment to assess transmission from the environment (environmental group). Nasal swabs, environmental swabs and tissue samples from the upper respiratory tract were taken for MRSA culture. Infection rates were calculated for each group of exposed pigs. MRSA persisted in the pharyngeal tissues of 6 inoculated pigs for at least 30 days and higher counts of S. aureus were found in pharyngeal tissues than in other sites. In this study we were able to demonstrate the establishment of colonisation by MRSA CC5 spa type t002 in commercially sourced pigs already colonised by S. aureus; however, colonisation was sporadic despite the inoculation of large doses. Onward transmission via pig-to-pig contact or environmental contamination was possible and a significant difference was found between the proportion of pigs infected in the environmental group and the proportion infected in the in-contact group during the first 5 days. However, no significant difference was detected in overall infection rates between the 2 groups. The tissues of the pharynx were found to carry greater numbers of S. aureus than other tissues of the upper respiratory tract; therefore, pharyngeal carriage of MRSA and S. aureus in pigs may be more significant than previously thought.

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