Methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureusST398 contamination and transmission in pigs after a low dose inoculation

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SummaryAims:Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) ST398 has recently been described as a zoonotic agent. Its transmission between animals seems to be a pivotal factor in its emergence and dissemination. This experimental trial was performed to describe MRSA ST398 contamination and transmission in pigs after a low dose inoculation.Methods and results:Twelve specific pathogen-free (SPF) pigs were randomly divided between two separate pens. Three pigs in each pen received a nasal inoculation of 2 × 104 colony-forming units per animal, and three naïve pigs were left in contact with them. Every 2 days and at necropsy, different samples were screened for MRSA. It was detected in nasal swabs from five inoculated and three naïve contact pigs, as early as 1 day after inoculation. MRSA was also found in environmental wipes but never in faecal samples. At necropsy, MRSA was detected in the lymph nodes of two contact pigs and in the tonsils and lymph nodes of three inoculated pigs. Twelve other SPF pigs were included as negative control in a separate room.Conclusion:This experiment showed that inoculation of a low dose of MRSA ST398 could lead to the horizontal transmission of the bacterium between pigs, the contamination of mandibular lymph nodes and the contamination of the environment without faecal carriage.Significance and Impact of the Study:The minimal inoculated dose via nasal route to observe transmission of MRSA ST398 between pigs is equal or lower to 2 × 104 colony-forming units per animal, and faecal excretion seems not to be a necessary condition for horizontal transmission.

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