Antimicrobial resistance and virulence characteristics in 3 collections of staphylococci from bovine milk samples

J Dairy Sci. 2021 Apr 29;S0022-0302(21)00568-3. doi: 10.3168/jds.2020-19988. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Mastitis is a prevalent disease in dairy cattle, and staphylococci are among the most common causative pathogens. Staphylococci can express resistance to a range of antimicrobials, of which methicillin resistance is of particular public health concern. Additionally, Staphylococcus aureus carries a variety of virulence factors, although less is understood about the virulence of non-aureus staphylococci (NAS). The aim of our study was to identify and characterize 3 collections of staphylococcal isolates from bovine milk samples regarding antimicrobial resistance, with emphasis on methicillin resistance, and their carriage of virulence genes typically displayed by Staph. aureus. A total of 272 staphylococcal isolates collected in Norway and Belgium in 2016 were included, distributed as follows: group 1, Norway, 100 isolates; group 2, Flanders, Belgium, 64 isolates; group 3, Wallonia, Belgium, 108 isolates. Species identification was performed by use of MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. Phenotypic resistance was determined via disk diffusion, and PCR was used for detection of methicillin resistance genes, mecA and mecC, and virulence genes. Antimicrobial resistance was common in Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus haemolyticus from all different groups, with resistance to trimethoprim-sulfonamide frequently occurring in Staph. epidermidis and Staph. haemolyticus as well as in Staph. aureus. Resistance to penicillin was most frequently observed in group 1. Ten Belgian isolates (1 from group 2, 9 from group 3) carried the methicillin resistance determinant mecA: 5 Staph. aureus from 2 different farms and 5 NAS from 3 different farms. Almost all Staph. aureus isolates were positive for at least 3 of the screened virulence genes, whereas, in total, only 8 NAS isolates harbored any of the same genes. Our study contributes to the continuous need for knowledge regarding staphylococci from food-producing animals as a basis for better understanding of occurrence of resistance and virulence traits in these bacteria.

Keywords: Staphylococcus aureus; antimicrobial resistance; bovine mastitis; non-aureus staphylococci; virulence genes.