The coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS) are the most prevalent mastitis pathogen group yet their virulence characteristics have not been well described. We investigated the presence of 19 classical and newly described staphylococcal superantigen (SAg) genes in CNS isolates from bovine intramammary infections (IMI). A total of 263 CNS representing 11 different Staphylococcus spp. were examined, and 31.2% (n=82) of CNS isolates had one or more SAg genes; there were 21 different SAg gene combinations. The most prevalent combination of SAg genes (seb, seln and selq; n=45) was found in S. chromogenes, S. xylosus, S. haemolyticus, S. sciuri subsp. carnaticus, S. simulans and S. succinus. The genes for SAgs appear to be widely distributed amongst CNS isolated from bovine IMI.
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