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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2014 Feb;69(2):355-62. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkt366. Epub 2013 Sep 26.

High genetic diversity of methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) from humans and animals on livestock farms and presence of SCCmec remnant DNA in MSSA CC398.

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National Reference Centre for S. aureus, Department of Microbiology, Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.



To investigate the genetic diversity of methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) carriage isolates from animals and humans on pig, veal, dairy, beef and broiler farms.


S. aureus isolates were genotyped using spa typing and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Antimicrobial susceptibility phenotypes and genotypes were determined. The presence of staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec)-associated DNA was characterized by PCR and sequencing among isolates of clonal complex (CC) 398.


Overall, 41 MSSA isolates in humans and 141 in animals were found, originating from all farm types. These MSSA were mainly assigned to CC398, CC1, CC5, CC9, CC30, CC97, CC133 and CC705/151. MSSA CC398 showed resistance to tetracycline, trimethoprim, macrolides and/or lincosamides, aminoglycosides, ciprofloxacin, spectinomycin and quinupristin/dalfopristin, whereas non-CC398 MSSA showed considerably less resistance. Three porcine MSSA CC398-t011 isolates harboured remnant DNA of a composite SCCmec V(5C2&5)c element that lacked the mec gene complex. This resulted from an MRSA-to-MSSA conversion due to recombination between the ccrC genes flanking the mec gene complex. The SCC remnant still contained an intact J1 region harbouring czrC and tet(K), encoding zinc and tetracycline resistance, respectively, thereby illustrating the capacity of S. aureus CC398 to adapt to different antibiotic selection pressures in the farming environment. Processes such as mec gene complex deletion probably contribute to the enormous diversity of SCC(mec) elements observed in staphylococci.


MSSA CC398 precursors from which MRSA CC398 might (re)emerge were present on pig, veal and broiler farms, all of which are livestock sectors commonly known to be affected by MRSA CC398. The multiresistance phenotype of S. aureus CC398 appears to be independent of methicillin resistance.


antimicrobial resistance; carriage; food animals; heavy metal resistance; molecular epidemiology

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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