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Project MRSA IWT: Study of the contamination patters and host-bacterium interactions in order to control MRSA and other animal species

Duration of the project

Starting date: 01 janvier 2009
Ending date: 31 décembre 2012

Operational Direction

Bacterial Diseases

ROLE OF CODA-CERVA in this project



Well known are ‘hospital-acquired' MRSA, which can infect hospitalised people, and ‘community-acquired' MRSA, which can infect healthy people outside the hospital environment. Recently, a third type of MRSA has been emerging : animal-related MRSA. This pathogen was first reported in the Dutch pig production sector but recent research shows it can also be found in Belgium. A recent Dutch study mentioned that MRSA and more specifically the type isolated from pigs (to a limited extent or in large concentrations) had already found its way into the food chain. This could lead to MRSA carriers in persons handling contaminated food.


No information is currently available about the type of contamination patterns in pig holdings, how these herds may react to a potential contamination of other animals and how this can be prevented. Apart from developing a suitable sampling and detection methodology, the main purpose of this project is to provide a long-term protocol for the remediation of MRSA-positive pig holdings. Towards this end, basic information is needed about the sources of MRSA contamination, the reproduction ratio of the infection and the germ-host interaction.


The project covers four research components.

  • The first one involves developing the methodology to be applied in the other components. Quantitative PCRs are developed for detecting MRSA in general and animal-related MRSA (ST398) in particular. A holding sampling protocol is formulated, focusing on sampling among pigs, other farm animals and the surrounding area. Finally, this part aims at comparing various molecular typing techniques in order to choose a fast method for discriminating MRSA isolates.
  • The second research component involves an investigation of contamination routes on pig holdings.
  • The third research component is focused on in vitro and in vivo testing of standard and alternative cleaning and disinfecting agents, in order to reduce the infection burden in MRSA-positive holdings and, ultimately, making holdings MRSA-free. These results and the findings from the second research component serve to develop general MRSA-related hygiene guidelines for pig holdings. Finally, the phenotypic resistance of MRSA to certain biocides is determined.
  • The bacterial-host interaction is examined in the fourth component. An investigation is done to see if specific S. aureus -both meticillin-resistant and non-resistant- strains adhere better to pig corneocytes and if strains have different adhesion capacities in various cell lines. This will offer an understanding of the behaviour of the ST398 clone circulating among various animal species in comparison with various other staphylococci.


- Scientist responsible for this project

- Team

- External partners

  • Katho

- Source of funding