Staphylococcus aureus Infecting and Colonizing Experimental Animals, Macaques, in a Research Animal Facility

Maria Pardos De La Gandara, Leslie Diaz, Chad W. Euler, Marilyn Chung, Alejandra Gonzalez, Christopher Cheleuitte, Winrich Freiwald, Alexander Tomasz, Vincent A. Fischetti, Hermínia De Lencastre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


An outbreak of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections on the skin and soft tissues of experimental macaques in the vivarium of The Rockefeller University, New York, triggered this observational and interventional study. We screened 14 macaques in the colony (samples from head, nares, and rectum) and their housing (40 environmental surfaces) four times in 1 year, for S. aureus colonization or contamination, while implementing enhanced decolonization and decontamination procedures. A total of 114 isolates of S. aureus were recovered and characterized (antibiograms, spa typing, multilocus sequence typing, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis [PFGE], mecA, Panton-Valentine Leukocidin, and arginine catabolic mobile element). Based on these results, six strains of S. aureus were identified: Two MRSA strains (t16708/ST3862/PFGE-A, t16709/ST3862/PFGE-C) and one methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (t8397/ST3884/PFGE-D) were characterized for the first time in this study; strains belonging to spa types t189 and t4167 have been identified in primates in previous studies. None of these strains was common to the neighboring New York City human community. Thus, it seems probable that the animals were already colonized upon arrival to the University. We suggest screening primates for S. aureus carriage upon arrival to University vivaria and possible implementation of extensive decolonization procedures before any surgical interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
JournalMicrobial Drug Resistance
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • MRSA
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • veterinary infections


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