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PLoS One. 2014 Jan 20;9(1):e85656. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085656. eCollection 2014.

Alarming proportions of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in wound samples from companion animals, Germany 2010-2012.

Author information

Institute of Microbiology and Epizootics, Veterinary Faculty, Free University Berlin, Germany.
Vet Med Labor GmbH, Division of IDEXX Laboratories, Ludwigsburg, Germany.
Department of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, Robert Koch Institute, Berlin, Germany.


Staphylococcus (S.) aureus is an important cause of wound infections in companion animals, and infections with methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) are of particular concern due to limited treatment options and their zoonotic potential. However, comparable epidemiological data on MRSA infections in dogs, cats and horses is scarce, also limiting the knowledge about possible links to MRSA isolates from human populations. To gain more knowledge about the occurrence and genotypic variation of MRSA among wound swabs of companion animal origin in Germany we performed a survey (2010-2012) including 5,229 samples from 1,170 veterinary practices. S. aureus was identified in 201 (5.8%) canine, 140 (12.2%) feline and 138 (22.8%) equine swabs from a total of 3,479 canine, 1,146 feline and 604 equine wounds, respectively. High MRSA rates were identified with 62.7%, 46.4% and 41.3% in S. aureus of canine, feline and equine origin, respectively. Further genotyping including spa typing and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) revealed a comparable distribution of spa types among canine and feline MRSA with CC22 (47.6%; 49.2%) and CC5 (30.2%; 29.2%) as predominant lineages followed by CC398 (13.5%; 7.7%) and CC8 (4.0%; 9.2%). In contrast, the majority of equine MRSA belonged to CC398 (87.7%). Our data highlight the importance of S. aureus and MRSA as a cause of wound infections, particularly in cats and horses in Germany. While "human-associated" MRSA lineages were most common in dogs and cats, a remarkable number of CC398-MRSA was detected in horses, indicating a replacement of CC8-MRSA as the predominant lineage within horses in Germany. These data enforce further longitudinal epidemiological approaches to examine the diversity and temporal relatedness of MRSA populations in humans and animals to assess probable sources of MRSA infections. This would enable a sound risk assessment and establishment of intervention strategies to limit the additional spread of MRSA.

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