What Is the Origin of Livestock-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Clonal Complex 398 Isolates from Humans without Livestock Contact? An Epidemiological and Genetic Analysis

Sybren Lekkerkerk, Willem van Wamel, Susan Snijders, RJ Willems, E van Duijkeren, EM Broens, JA Wagenaar, JA Lindsay, Greet Vos

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Fifteen percent of all methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) clonal complex 398 (CC398) human carriers detected in The Netherlands had not been in direct contact with pigs or veal calves. To ensure low MRSA prevalence, it is important to investigate the likely origin of this MRSA of unknown origin (MUO). Recently, it was shown that CC398 strains originating from humans and animals differ in the presence of specific mobile genetic elements (MGEs). We hypothesized that determining these specific MGEs in MUO isolates and comparing them with a set of CC398 isolates of various known origin might provide clues to their origin. MUO CC398 isolates were compared to MRSA CC398 isolates obtained from humans with known risk factors, a MRSA CC398 outbreak isolate, livestock associated (LA) MRSA CC398 isolates from pigs, horses, chickens, and veal calves, and five methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) CC398 isolates of known human origin. All strains were spa typed, and the presence or absence of, scn, chp, phi 3 int, phi 6 int, phi 7 int, rep7, rep27, and cadDX was determined by PCRs. The MRSA CC398 in humans, MUO, or MRSA of known origin (MKO) resembled MRSA CC398 as found in pigs and not MSSA CC398 as found in humans. The distinct human MSSA CC398 spa type, t571, was not present among our MRSA CC398 strains; MRSA CC398 was tetracycline resistant and carried no phi 3 bacteriophage with scn and chp. We showed by simple PCR means that human MUO CC398 carriers carried MRSA from livestock origin, suggestive of indirect transmission. Although the exact transmission route remains unknown, direct human-to-human transmission remains a possibility as well.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1836-1841
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Microbiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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