Detection and quantification of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in fresh broiler meat at retail in Germany

Pauly, N.; Wichmann-Schauer, H.; Ballhausen, B.; Torres Reyes, N.; Fetsch, A.; Tenhagen, B.-A.

The aim of this study was to detect, to quantify and to characterize MRSA in broiler meat samples with skin. Furthermore, we compared an isolation method using a second selective enrichment step (method A) with a simpler method omitting this step (method B). For quantification we used a direct plating method on selective agar plates and a “Most probable number” (MPN) technique for estimation of low numbers of MRSA. Presumptive MRSA colonies were confirmed by MALDI-TOF and by PCR. After confirmation the isolated MRSA were characterized by spa-typing and, if necessary, by multi-locus sequence typing. Method B detected more MRSA-positive samples (16.7%, n = 215) than method A (12.1%). However, method B also produced more false positive results (28.4%).The highest estimated number of MRSA in fresh broiler meat with skin was 1100 MPN/g, but in most positive samples (80.1%) the estimated numbers of MRSA were lower than 10 MPN/g. Thus, the numbers of MRSA in the samples were too low to detect using the spread plate technique. Ten different spa-types were identified. Six of these with 69% of the isolates were assigned to the clonal complex CC398 (t034; t011; t2576; t571; t5452; t1457). Spa-types t1430, t13177 and t899 can be assigned to CC9. Spa-type t304 was identified as MLST-type ST6. In conclusion, we provide quantitative data on low level contamination of fresh broiler meat with MRSA. Most isolated MRSA were from livestock associated spa-types. Omitting the second enrichment step was associated with an increase in sensitivity but lower specificity of the cultural method.

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Pauly, N. / Wichmann-Schauer, H. / Ballhausen, B. / et al: Detection and quantification of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in fresh broiler meat at retail in Germany. 2019.

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