Evidence of possible methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ST398 spread between pigs and other animals and people residing on the same farm

Larissa J Pletinckx, Marijke Verhegghe, Florence Crombé, Jeroen Dewulf, Yves De Bleecker, Geertrui Rasschaert, Patrick Butaye, Bruno M Goddeeris, Ingrid De Man

    Research output: Contribution to journalA2: International peer reviewed article (not A1-type)peer-review


    Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has emerged in a wide variety of animal species. However, little is known about the transmission routes of MRSA ST398 between different animal species, the barn environment and people residing on the same farm. In this study, two pig farms, two poultry-pig and two dairy-pig farms were investigated with respect to the presence of MRSA. On each farm, samples were collected from all animal species present, the barn environment, the farmer, household members and the herd veterinarians. Besides the MRSA prevalence, the obtained spa-, SCCmec-type and antimicrobial susceptibility profiles were also compared. Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) showed that MRSA ST398 was found in all animal species, in humans present on the farms and also in the pig barn environment. The presence of MRSA with the same spa-, SCCmec-type and antibiotic profile in the different animal species in direct or indirect contact with pigs suggests MRSA transfer. Furthermore, different pig age categories were investigated, with weaned piglets having the highest MRSA prevalence (86.3%). The herd-level prevalence was highly correlated (r=0.86, p=0.03) between sows and pre-weaned piglets. The results also indicate that companion animals, rats, mice and farmers could play an important role in the dissemination of MRSA, emphasizing the importance of internal biosecurity. However, external biosecurity is equally important because other spa-, SCCmec-types or antimicrobial resistances can be introduced through purchase of gilts. In this study we demonstrated that MRSA likely spreads between animal species, humans and the pig barn environment, which is why it is important to accurately implement control practices, in which not only pigs should be targeted, but also all other animal species present on farms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number3-4
    Pages (from-to)293-303
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • Animals
    • Belgium
    • DNA, Bacterial
    • Female
    • Humans
    • Logistic Models
    • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus
    • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
    • Multilocus Sequence Typing
    • Polymerase Chain Reaction
    • Prevalence
    • Staphylococcal Infections
    • Swine
    • Swine Diseases
    • Zoonoses


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