Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has become an emerging public health problem worldwide, no longer only associated with healthcare-associated infections. With the exception of some recent reports concerning infections in cats, dogs and horses, infections with MRSA in companion animals have been infrequently reported. Here we submit findings for MRSA infections in horses in a central European university veterinary hospital.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has become a worldwide public health problem [1,2]. Increasing prevalence of healthcare-associated MRSA infections is usually associated with a wide dissemination of particular epidemic clonal lineages of the S. aureus population . Since the late 1990s, MRSA has emerged in many countries as a cause of invasive skin infections in the community, independently from the healthcare setting [4-8]. In this context, colonisation and infections with MRSA in domestic animals are of particular interest with regard to a mutual dissemination between humans and animals. The first communication on MRSA infections in domestic animals concerned mastitis cases in dairy cows in Belgium in 1972 . Since that time there have been reports of sporadic cases of infection with MRSA in a variety of other domestic animal species such as horses, chickens, dogs and cats [10-13]. MRSA infections in horses associated with wide dissemination of a particular clonal lineage have been recently documented in Canada [14,15].
Here we report on emergence of MRSA in a university veterinary hospital and on an assessment of the relation of human and animal MRSA isolates by means of molecular typing. This includes SmaI macrorestriction patterns, multilocus sequence typing (MLST) for assessing the core genome of S. aureus and characterisation of SCCmec elements of which at least 5 different groups have so far been described . SCCmec (staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec) elements contain the mecA gene that codes for methicillin resistance .
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