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J Dairy Sci. 2019 Apr;102(4):3274-3281. doi: 10.3168/jds.2018-15317. Epub 2019 Feb 22.

Staphylococcus aureus related to bovine mastitis in Switzerland: Clonal diversity, virulence gene profiles, and antimicrobial resistance of isolates collected throughout 2017.

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Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene, Vetsuisse Faculty University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene, Vetsuisse Faculty University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland. Electronic address:


Staphylococcus aureus can be associated with subclinical, acute, chronic, and toxic cases of bovine intramammary infections, leading to considerable financial losses for the dairy industry in Switzerland and worldwide. In addition, milk products are one of the most common food categories implicated in staphylococcal food poisoning in humans. Detailed information on the population structure, as well as the virulence and resistance characteristics of Staph. aureus originating from bovine mastitis milk is needed to allow for source attribution and risk assessment of Staph. aureus in a food poisoning context and to improve therapeutic approaches in cattle. Our objective was to assess the population structure, phenotypic resistance patterns, and virulence and resistance gene profiles of Staph. aureus isolates from bovine mastitis milk in Switzerland. To this end, 58 Staph. aureus strains were characterized. The DNA microarray was used to test for the presence or absence of virulence and resistance genes. In addition, minimum inhibitory concentrations of various antimicrobial agents were determined by microdilution. To assess the population structure of the isolates, we determined clonal complexes (CC) using DNA microarray hybridization profiles and performed multilocus sequence typing and spa typing. The strains were assigned to 7 clonal complexes, 10 sequence types, and 11 spa types, with CC705 (43%), CC97 (33%), and CC20 (12%) representing the most common lineages and t529 (43%) and t267 (21%) representing the most common spa types. Only 1 isolate was assigned to CC8, a clonal lineage linked to high within-herd prevalence of mastitis. A total of 14% (n = 8) of strains were classified as resistant to penicillin, and 1 strain each was classified as oxacillin and pirlimycin resistant. Although no clinical breakpoints are available for the combination of kanamycin/cefalexin, growth of all strains was inhibited by the lowest combination of kanamycin/cefalexin concentrations tested (4 µg/mL of kanamycin and 0.4 µg/mL of cefalexin). One strain assigned to CC20, ST389, and t2094 exhibited resistance to penicillin, oxacillin, and pirlimycin as well as intermediate susceptibility to erythromycin and high minimum inhibitory concentration for several antimicrobial agents, for which no breakpoints were available.


Staphylococcus aureus; bovine mastitis; minimum inhibitory concentration; population structure


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