Background: European studies suggest that living near high-density livestock production increases the risk of sequence type (ST) 398 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization. To our knowledge, no studies have evaluated associations between livestock production and human infection by other strain types.
Objectives: We evaluated associations between MRSA molecular subgroups and high-density livestock production.
Methods: We conducted a yearlong 2012 prospective study on a stratified random sample of patients with culture-confirmed MRSA infection; we oversampled patients from the Geisinger Health System with exposure to high-density livestock production in Pennsylvania. Isolates were characterized using S. aureus protein A (spa) typing and detection of Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) and scn genes. We compared patients with one of two specific MRSA strains with patients with all other strains of MRSA isolates, using logistic regression that accounted for the sampling design, for two different exposure models: one based on the location of the animals (livestock model) and the other on crop field application of manure (crop field model).
Results: Of 196 MRSA isolates, we identified 30 spa types, 47 PVL-negative and 15 scn-negative isolates, and no ST398 MRSA. Compared with quartiles 1–3 combined, the highest quartiles of swine livestock and dairy/veal crop field exposures were positively associated with community-onset-PVL-negative MRSA (CO-PVL-negative MRSA vs. all other MRSA), with adjusted odds ratios of 4.24 (95% CI: 1.60, 11.25) and 4.88 (95% CI: 1.40, 17.00), respectively. The association with CO-PVL-negative MRSA infection increased across quartiles of dairy/veal livestock exposure (trend p = 0.05).
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that other MRSA strains, beyond ST398, may be involved in livestock-associated MRSA infection in the United States.
Citation: Casey JA, Shopsin B, Cosgrove SE, Nachman KE, Curriero FC, Rose HR, Schwartz BS. 2014. High-density livestock production and molecularly characterized MRSA infections in Pennsylvania. Environ Health Perspect 122:464–470; http://dx.doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1307370