Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus colonization in pigs and pig farmers

Vet Microbiol. 2008 Apr 30;128(3-4):298-303. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2007.10.006. Epub 2007 Oct 16.


Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization has recently been identified in pigs and people that work with pigs, raising concerns about the role of pigs as reservoirs of MRSA for human infection. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the prevalence of MRSA colonization in pigs and pig farmers in Ontario, Canada and to characterize MRSA strains. Nasal and rectal swabs were collected from 285 pigs from three different age groups from 20 pig farms. Nasal swabs were collected from farm personnel and a brief questionnaire was also administered. The prevalence of MRSA colonization in farms was 45% (9/20) whereas the prevalence in pigs was 24.9% (71/285). There was no difference in MRSA colonization between age groups. The prevalence of MRSA colonization in pig farmers was 20% (5/25). There was a correlation between the presence of MRSA in pigs and humans on farms (P value=0.001). The results of spa typing revealed the predominant strain in pigs and humans was eGenomics spa type 539 (Ridom t034, clonal complex 398) which accounted for 59.2% of isolates and has been reported in pigs in Europe. A common human epidemic clone, CMRSA-2 (USA100, clonal complex 5) was also found in both pigs and pig personnel. Indistinguishable strains were found in pigs and pig personnel on all five farms with a colonized human. This study demonstrates that MRSA is common in pigs in Ontario, Canada, and provides further support to concerns about transmission of MRSA between pigs and humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animal Husbandry / methods
  • Animals
  • Disease Reservoirs / microbiology
  • Disease Reservoirs / veterinary
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methicillin Resistance*
  • Nasal Cavity / microbiology
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Rectum / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / transmission*
  • Staphylococcal Infections / veterinary*
  • Staphylococcus aureus / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus / pathogenicity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Swine
  • Swine Diseases / drug therapy
  • Swine Diseases / microbiology*
  • Swine Diseases / transmission*
  • Zoonoses*