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Foodborne Pathog Dis. 2019 Aug 28. doi: 10.1089/fpd.2019.2638. [Epub ahead of print]

Risk Factors for the Occurrence of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Dairy Herds: An Update.

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Department Biological Safety, German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, Berlin, Germany.


In dairy cows, Staphylococcus aureus is a major mastitis pathogen and methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) has been reported from dairy farms around the world. The risk of foodborne zoonotic infections with bovine MRSA strains seems to be low since MRSA prevalence is low in dairy herds and milk is commonly heat treated before consumption. However, bovine mastitis caused by MRSA is an important issue in veterinary medicine since treatment options with non-β-lactam antibiotics are limited. For the development of effective MRSA prevention strategies, it is necessary to know which factors increase the risk for MRSA transmission into and within dairy herds. Therefore, the aim of this review is to summarize the risk factors for the occurrence of MRSA in dairy herds and to identify the respective knowledge gaps. MRSA was more frequently detected in conventional dairy farms than in organic farms and in larger farms than in smaller farms. Dairy farms housing pigs along with cattle are more frequently affected by MRSA. Moreover, humans carrying MRSA can probably infect dairy cows. Consequently, pigs and humans may introduce new MRSA strains into dairy herds. MRSA transmission within dairy herds was associated with improper milking hygiene procedures. Furthermore, methicillin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci (MR-CoNS) were repeatedly isolated from dairy farms. This is an important issue since MR-CoNS may transfer resistance genes to S. aureus. The role of antimicrobial exposure as a risk factor for the occurrence of MRSA within dairy herds needs to be further investigated.


MRSA; dairy; methicillin; milk; staphylococcus


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