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J Clin Microbiol. 2013 Apr;51(4):1199-207. doi: 10.1128/JCM.03166-12. Epub 2013 Jan 30.

Prevalence and characterization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates from retail meat and humans in Georgia.

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Bacterial Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Resistance Research Unit, USDA-ARS, Russell Research Center, Athens, Georgia, USA.


There is increasing interest in the presence of Staphylococcus aureus, specifically methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), on retail meat products. In this study, staphylococci were isolated from retail pork and retail beef in Georgia, and MRSA from the products was compared to human MRSA from the same geographic area using broth microdilution antimicrobial susceptibility testing, multilocus sequence typing (MLST), spa typing, SCCmec typing, and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). S. aureus was isolated from 45% (45/100) of pork products and 63% (63/100) of beef products; mecA was detected in S. aureus from both pork (3/100; 3%) and beef (4/100; 4%). Fifty percent (50/100) of human S. aureus also contained mecA. Multidrug resistance was detected among MRSA from all sources. All MRSA (n = 57) was SCCmec type IV, and nine different spa types were present among the isolates (t002, t008, t012, t024, t179, t337, t548, t681, and t1062). Four sequence types (ST5, ST8, ST9, and ST30) were detected using MLST; the majority of MRSA isolates belonged to ST8, followed by ST5. One retail beef MRSA isolate belonged to ST8, while the remaining three were ST5. In retail pork MRSA, ST5, ST9, and ST30 were observed. The majority of human MRSA isolates belonged to ST8. Thirty-seven MRSA isolates, one of which was a retail beef MRSA isolate, were pvl(+). Using PFGE, MLST, and spa typing, three retail beef MRSA isolates were found to be identical in PFGE pattern, ST, and spa type to two human clonal MRSA isolates (USA100 and USA300). One additional retail beef MRSA isolate had a PFGE pattern similar to that of a human MRSA isolate, whereas none of the retail pork MRSA isolates had PFGE patterns similar to those of human MRSA isolates. These data suggest that the retail beef samples were contaminated by a human source, possibly during processing of the meat, and may present a source of MRSA for consumers and others who handle raw meat.

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