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Project : Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus lineages in primary productions: multi-host pathogen, spill-over and spill-back between animals and humans?

Duration of the project

Starting date : January 2011
Ending date : December 2012

Operational Direction

Bacterial Diseases

Operational Unit

General bacteriology, antibiotic resistance included

Role of CODA in this project

Participants to WP 1 and 2


Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a leading cause of hospital-associated infections and has emerged recently as a significant pathogen in EU. MRSA clones recently emerged in livestock now referred to as Livestock-Associated MRSA (LA-MRSA). Different MRSA clones have found an ecological niche in pig farming and other livestock in many European countries. Preliminary studies show a remarkable difference in distribution of different LA-MRSA types between countries, suggesting regional influences on the epidemiology. This study in 4 different European countries will provide useful information about heterogeneity and epidemiology of MRSA in these member states.


The objectives of the project are the following:
1 assessing the diffusion and the relationships of LA-MRSA clones in primary productions in EU, as well as the diffusion of MRSA lineages other than those known to be associated with farm animals (i. e. Clonal Complex 398), with particular attention to lineages of human origin circulating in farm animals;
2 assessing the presence of different multi-resistance patterns and their distribution among different MRSA clones and lineages;
3 investigating the possible association between the use of some antimicrobials (including metals) and the presence and prevalence of MRSA in animal farming in view of possible intervention;
4 providing genotypic characterisation of MRSA clones obtained by means of population studies in farm animals (i. e. spa-types, Sequence Types, and the presence virulence and resistance determinants) also by the use of innovative and multiple molecular diagnostic assays, for molecular epidemiology purposes;
5 Development and validation of innovative real-time PCR based screening methods for the detection of MRSA clones from livestock and for selected virulence and resistance determinants, which could consequently be used as sensitive tools to obtain comparable data on the prevalence and characteristics of MRSA clones.
6 providing colonisation experiments in pigs for selected non-CC398 lineages, known to circulate in pig farms in some MSs;
7 exploring the possible patterns of diffusion of MRSA colonization within holdings;
8 investigating possible risk factors for the positive status of holdings from LA-MRSA lineages and human-associated MRSA lineages circulating among farm animals by epidemiological studies;
9 comparing frequencies and genotype profile of isolates detected in animals and those of the same genotype profile detected in humans, through passive surveillance or early warning on the occurrence of infections or contamination of humans by selected group of lineages, either of animal or human origin£.


The results delivered by the project will be important in understanding the epidemiology of MRSA clones circulating in farm animals. Additionally, it will provide information on the occurrence of the spill-over spill-back phenomenon between farm animals and humans, for risk assessment purposes.


Scientist responsible of this project


External partners


Source of funding

Self funded research