Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in three dairy herds in southwest Germany
The objective of this study was to analyse the occurrence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in three dairy herds in the southwest of Germany that had experienced individual cases of clinical and subclinical mastitis associated with MRSA. The herds were identified by the detection of MRSA during routine resistance testing of mastitis pathogens. All quarters of all cows in the herds that were positive on California Mastitis Test were sampled for bacteriological analysis on two occasions. Bulk tank milk samples were also tested. Furthermore, nasal swabs were collected from people working on the farms and from cattle. Environmental samples were collected from associated pig holdings. Isolates were characterized using spa-typing and testing for antimicrobial resistance. Our results revealed a substantial spread of MRSA in the three dairy herds. In the first of the two investigations carried out on all cows in the three herds, milk samples of 5.1-16.7% of dairy cows were found positive for MRSA. The respective proportions in the second herd level investigation were 1.4-10.0%. Quarters harbouring MRSA had higher somatic cell counts than quarters that were negative on culture. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus were also detected in nasal swabs of staff (7/9), cows (7/15) and calves (4/7), bulk tank milk samples (3/3) and environmental samples from pig premises (4/5) on the farm. Herds B and C had no contact to herd A. However, in all three herds MRSA of spa-type t011 were detected in milk samples. Results show that MRSA of spa-type t011 is a problem in dairy farms that needs urgent attention.