Prevalence and molecular characteristics of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) among pigs on German farms and import of livestock-related MRSA into hospitals

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2009 Nov;28(11):1375-82. doi: 10.1007/s10096-009-0795-4. Epub 2009 Aug 25.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence and molecular characteristics of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) among pigs and estimate the impact of this animal reservoir on human healthcare. Nasal swabs were derived from 1,600 pigs at 40 German farms. The MRSA were characterized using S. aureus protein A (spa) typing, multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and detection of toxin genes. In a retrospective case control study, we compared risk factors for the carriage of MRSA between patients carrying spa types found among regional pigs and patients with other MRSA molecular types. Pigs carrying MRSA were identified on 70% of the farms (spa types t011, t034, t108, t1451 and t2510, all associated with MLST sequence type ST398). Contact to pigs and cattle were independent risk factors for the carriage of these spa types in patients at hospital admission. Our results indicate that livestock represents a relevant reservoir for the import of MRSA into regional German hospitals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • Carrier State / microbiology
  • Carrier State / veterinary*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross Infection / epidemiology
  • Cross Infection / microbiology*
  • DNA Fingerprinting
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / classification
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / genetics
  • Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus / isolation & purification*
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Epidemiology
  • Nasal Cavity / microbiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Staphylococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Staphylococcal Infections / veterinary*
  • Swine
  • Swine Diseases / epidemiology
  • Swine Diseases / microbiology*
  • Young Adult
  • Zoonoses / epidemiology
  • Zoonoses / microbiology*
  • Zoonoses / transmission*


  • DNA, Bacterial