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Comp Immunol Microbiol Infect Dis. 2013 Jan;36(1):83-94. doi: 10.1016/j.cimid.2012.10.001. Epub 2012 Nov 13.

High diversity of Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus pseudintermedius lineages and toxigenic traits in healthy pet-owning household members. Underestimating normal household contact?

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Área Bioquímica y Biología Molecular, Universidad de La Rioja, Logroño, Spain.


Forty-three unrelated pet-owning households were screened in Spain to study the Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus pseudintermedius nasal carriage, their genetic lineages and virulence traits. Sixty-seven healthy owners and 66 healthy pets were investigated. Isolates characterization was performed and potential interspecies transmission was assessed. S. aureus was present in 51.2% of households studied while S. pseudintermedius in 30.2%. Twenty-eight owners (41.8%) carried S. aureus: one methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) [t5173-ST8-SCCmecIVa] and 27 methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA). Three owners (4.5%) were colonized by methicillin-susceptible S. pseudintermedius (MSSP). Fifteen pets (22.7%) carried S. pseudintermedius: two methicillin-resistant S. pseudintermedius (MRSP) [ST71-SCCmecII/III; ST92-SCCmecV] and 13 MSSP; in addition, 8 pets (12.1%) presented MSSA. High diversity of spa and sequence types (STs) was detected. Typical livestock-associated S. aureus lineages (CC398, CC9) were observed in humans and/or companion animals and hospital and/or community-acquired S. aureus lineages (CC45, CC121, CC5, CC8) were detected among pets. Almost 40% of S. pseudintermedius were multidrug-resistant. S. aureus isolates harboured a remarkable high number of virulence genes. The expA gene was detected in 3 S. pseudintermedius isolates. Identical strains from both owners and their pets were identified in 5 households (11.6%): (a) four MSSA (t073-ST45/CC45, t159-ST121/CC121, t209-ST109/CC9, t021-ST1654([new])/singleton) and (b) one multidrug-resistant MSSP (ST142([new])). Highly clonally diverse and toxigenic S. aureus and S. pseudintermedius are common colonizers of healthy humans and pets. The presence of these bacterial species, virulence genes, and interspecies transmission detected, points out to consider pet ownership as a risk factor to acquire, maintain and spread, potential pathogenic bacteria.

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