Livestock-Associated methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus in animals and humans
Since 2004 MRSA emerged in animals, particularly in pigs and veal calves. This new MRSA variant was since its first appearance referred to as Livestock Associated-MRSA (LA-MRSA). In Europe and Northern America, LA-MRSA belongs predominantly to clonal complex (CC) 398 whereas in Asia ST9 seems to be dominant in pigs. Persons in direct contact with LA-MRSA-positive animals have an increased risk of becoming MRSA positive. The risk of carriage is mainly related with the intensity of animal contact and with MRSA prevalence among animals on the farm. In contrast with its success in animals, it seemed that MRSA CC398 is a poor persistent colonizer in humans. MRSA ST398 can, however, cause serious (invasive) infections and outbreaks, although, only incidentally reported so far. Farm hygiene and antimicrobial use contributed to MRSA occurrence in animals. Therefore these two determinants should in principle be incorporated into MRSA-control programmes in animal production. Like any other microorganism, LA-MRSA is expected to be able to adapt to new hosts and may change over time in the potential to colonize and to produce toxins. Also, the current circulating clone CC398 may be replaced by another clone in Western countries or emerge in countries where this clone is currently low-prevalent. Ongoing MRSA surveillance in humans and animals is needed to detect changes in epidemiology and to implement effective control measures.