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J Agromedicine. 2016;21(2):149-53. doi: 10.1080/1059924X.2016.1142917.

Detection of Airborne Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Inside and Downwind of a Swine Building, and in Animal Feed: Potential Occupational, Animal Health, and Environmental Implications.

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  • 1a Department of Occupational and Environmental Health , University of Iowa , Iowa City , Iowa , USA.
  • 2b Department of Epidemiology , University of Iowa , Iowa City , Iowa , USA.
  • 3c Department of Biostatistics, Environmental Health Sciences, and Epidemiology , Kent State University , Kent , Ohio , USA.


Aerosolized methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was sampled inside and downwind of a swine facility. Animal feed was sampled before and after entry into the swine facility. Aerosolized particles were detected using an optical particle counter for real-time measurement and with an Andersen sampler to detect viable MRSA. Molecular typing and antimicrobial susceptibility testing were performed on samples collected. Viable MRSA organisms isolated inside the swine facility were primarily associated with particles >5 µm, and those isolated downwind from the swine facility were associated with particles <5 µm. MRSA isolates included spa types t008, t034, and t5706 and were resistant to methicillin, tetracycline, clindamycin, and erythromycin. Animal feed both before and after entry into the swine facility tested positive for viable MRSA. These isolates were of similar spa types as the airborne MRSA organisms. Air samples collected after power washing with a biocide inside the swine facility resulted in no viable MRSA organisms detected. This pilot study showed that the ecology of MRSA is complex. Additional studies are warranted on the maximum distance that viable MRSA can be emitted outside the facility, and the possibility that animal feed may be a source of contamination.


Agriculture; MRSA; air sampling; animal feeding operation; bioaerosol; confined; swine; zoonosis

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