The nosocomial prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Portugal is close to 50% and remains one of the highest in Europe. MRSA reservoirs in the animal setting in Portugal have been very poorly investigated, namely among animal husbandry. A total of 52 samples (nasal, inguinal region, and milk) were obtained from bovine animals and analyzed for the presence of S. aureus. The isolates were characterized by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), spa typing, SCCmec typing, and multilocus sequence typing and tested for antimicrobial susceptibility, presence of mecA and mecC genes, and virulence determinants. Overall, 54% of the screened animals were colonized with S. aureus in at least one body site. Notably, S. aureus nasal carriage followed an increasing trend with animal age (p = 0.0006). None of the isolates harbored the mecA or mecC genes. Resistance to penicillin, rifampicin, and tetracycline was observed in 24%, 18%, and 6% of the isolates, respectively. The isolates were distributed into three clonal lineages: PFGE type A, spa type t1166, ST1247-CC133 (43%), PFGE B-t267-ST352-CC97 (30%), and PFGE C-t091-ST7-CC7 (27%). CC133 was associated to older animals (p = 0.0025), whereas CC97 was isolated from calves (p = 0.0016). Virulence determinants commonly found in mastitis were widely detected in carriage isolates: lukDE and hlgv (100%), hlb (76%), and lukM (35%). Although healthy bovines do not represent a MRSA reservoir in Portugal, they are mainly colonized with S. aureus pathogenic lineages associated to mastitis in cattle (CC97 and CC133).
- S. aureus