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EMBO Mol Med. 2013 Apr;5(4):509-15. doi: 10.1002/emmm.201202413. Epub 2013 Mar 25.

Whole genome sequencing identifies zoonotic transmission of MRSA isolates with the novel mecA homologue mecC.

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Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.


Several methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) lineages that carry a novel mecA homologue (mecC) have recently been described in livestock and humans. In Denmark, two independent human cases of mecC-MRSA infection have been linked to a livestock reservoir. We investigated the molecular epidemiology of the associated MRSA isolates using whole genome sequencing (WGS). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) were defined and compared to a reference genome to place the isolates into a phylogenetic context. Phylogenetic analysis revealed two distinct farm-specific clusters comprising isolates from the human case and their own livestock, whereas human and animal isolates from the same farm only differed by a small number of SNPs, which supports the likelihood of zoonotic transmission. Further analyses identified a number of genes and mutations that may be associated with host interaction and virulence. This study demonstrates that mecC-MRSA ST130 isolates are capable of transmission between animals and humans, and underscores the potential of WGS in epidemiological investigations and source tracking of bacterial infections.

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