Background: Many methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates in Korea possess a specific profile of staphylococcal enterotoxins in that the toxic shock syndrome toxin gene (tst) coexists with the staphylococcal enterotoxin C gene (sec). Because the analysis of staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec), a mobile genetic element mecA gene encoding methicillin resistance, showed that majority of these are SCCmec type II, these MRSA isolates with tst and sec may be genetically related with each other. This study was performed to investigate the genetic relatedness of tstand sec-harboring MRSA strains isolated in Korea by using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
Methods: A total of 59 strains of MRSA isolates of SCCmec type II possessing tst and sec were selected for PFGE and phylogenetic analyses. These isolates were collected from 13 health care facilities during nationwide surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in 2002.
Results: The 59 MRSA isolates were clustered into 11 PFGE types, including one major group of 26 strains (44.1%) isolated from 7 healthcare facilities. Seven PFGE types contained 2 or more isolates each, comprising 55 isolates in total.
Conclusions: Most of SCCmec type II MRSA isolates containing tst and sec showed closely related PFGE patterns. Moreover, MRSA isolates collected from different healthcare facilities showed identical PFGE patterns. These findings suggested a clonal spread of MRSA strains possessing tst and sec in Korean hospitals.