MRSA carriage in healthcare personnel in contact with farm animals

J Hosp Infect. 2008 Oct;70(2):186-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2008.06.006. Epub 2008 Aug 12.


In The Netherlands it has been shown that people in contact with pigs have a higher risk of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriage than the general population. Isolates of closely related spa types, corresponding to multilocus sequence type (MLST) ST398, were found in pig farmers, pig veterinarians and pigs. The objective of this study was to investigate whether contact with pigs and veal calves or other livestock is a risk factor for MRSA carriage in Dutch healthcare workers (HCWs). HCWs at four general hospitals and one university hospital were asked to fill in questionnaires covering contact with animals and to take MRSA cultures of their throat and nares. Cultures of HCWs in contact with livestock were processed with samples from HCWs with no contact with livestock as controls. Seventy-seven of 1721 HCWs (4.4%) reported direct or indirect contact with pigs and/or veal calves and 145 reported contact with other livestock animals. The MRSA carriage rate in the group in contact with pigs and veal calves was 1.7% and in the control group was 0.15%. No carriers were found among HCWs in contact with other livestock. An estimated 3% of hospital staff working in Dutch hospitals serving rural populations belong to a high risk group for MRSA carriage according to the Dutch guidelines. Although MRSA carriage in HCWs in contact with livestock is 10-fold higher than in other HCWs, the difference is not statistically significant.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic* / microbiology
  • Carrier State* / epidemiology
  • Carrier State* / microbiology
  • Carrier State* / transmission
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / microbiology
  • Cattle Diseases / transmission
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methicillin Resistance*
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Personnel, Hospital*
  • Risk Factors
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / transmission
  • Staphylococcal Infections* / veterinary
  • Staphylococcus aureus* / drug effects
  • Staphylococcus aureus* / isolation & purification
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Swine
  • Swine Diseases / microbiology
  • Swine Diseases / transmission