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1.  Evaluation of a Modular Multiplex-PCR Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus Detection Assay Adapted for mecC Detection 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(6):1917-1919.
A mecC (mecALGA251)-adapted multiplex PCR-based methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) detection assay was evaluated using an international, spa-typed Staphylococcus aureus collection comprising 51 mecC-positive MRSA, 240 mecA-positive MRSA, and 50 mecA- and mecC-negative methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) isolates. The assay showed 100% sensitivity and specificity for S. aureus species identification as well as for mecA and mecC detection.
PMCID: PMC3716076  PMID: 23515551
2.  Rapid Differentiation between Livestock-Associated and Livestock-Independent Staphylococcus aureus CC398 Clades 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79645.
Staphylococcus aureus clonal complex 398 (CC398) isolates cluster into two distinct phylogenetic clades based on single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) revealing a basal human clade and a more derived livestock clade. The scn and tet(M) genes are strongly associated with the human and the livestock clade, respectively, due to loss and acquisition of mobile genetic elements. We present canonical single-nucleotide polymorphism (canSNP) assays that differentiate the two major host-associated S. aureus CC398 clades and a duplex PCR assay for detection of scn and tet(M). The canSNP assays correctly placed 88 S. aureus CC398 isolates from a reference collection into the human and livestock clades and the duplex PCR assay correctly identified scn and tet(M). The assays were successfully applied to a geographically diverse collection of 272 human S. aureus CC398 isolates. The simple assays described here generate signals comparable to a whole-genome phylogeny for major clade assignment and are easily integrated into S. aureus CC398 surveillance programs and epidemiological studies.
PMCID: PMC3828327  PMID: 24244535
3.  Novel mutations in penicillin-binding protein genes in clinical Staphylococcus aureus isolates that are methicillin resistant on susceptibility testing, but lack the mec gene 
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an important global health problem. MRSA resistance to β-lactam antibiotics is mediated by the mecA or mecC genes, which encode an alternative penicillin-binding protein (PBP) 2a that has a low affinity to β-lactam antibiotics. Detection of mec genes or PBP2a is regarded as the gold standard for the diagnosis of MRSA. We identified four MRSA isolates that lacked mecA or mecC genes, but were still phenotypically resistant to pencillinase-resistant β-lactam antibiotics.
The four human S. aureus isolates were investigated by whole genome sequencing and a range of phenotypic assays.
We identified a number of amino acid substitutions present in the endogenous PBPs 1, 2 and 3 that were found in the resistant isolates but were absent in closely related susceptible isolates and which may be the basis of resistance. Of particular interest are three identical amino acid substitutions in PBPs 1, 2 and 3, occurring independently in isolates from at least two separate multilocus sequence types. Two different non-conservative substitutions were also present in the same amino acid of PBP1 in two isolates from two different sequence types.
This work suggests that phenotypically resistant MRSA could be misdiagnosed using molecular methods alone and provides evidence of alternative mechanisms for β-lactam resistance in MRSA that may need to be considered by diagnostic laboratories.
PMCID: PMC3922151  PMID: 24216768
β-lactams; MRSA; mecA; mecC
4.  Livestock Origin for a Human Pandemic Clone of Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus 
mBio  2013;4(4):e00356-13.
The importance of livestock as a source of bacterial pathogens with the potential for epidemic spread in human populations is unclear. In recent years, there has been a global increase in community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA) infections of healthy humans, but an understanding of the different evolutionary origins of CA-MRSA clones and the basis for their recent expansion is lacking. Here, using a high-resolution phylogenetic approach, we report the discovery of two emergent clones of human epidemic CA-MRSA which resulted from independent livestock-to-human host jumps by the major bovine S. aureus complex, CC97. Of note, one of the new clones was isolated from human infections on four continents, demonstrating its global dissemination since the host jump occurred over 40 years ago. The emergence of both human S. aureus clones coincided with the independent acquisition of mobile genetic elements encoding antimicrobial resistance and human-specific mediators of immune evasion, consistent with an important role for these genetic events in the capacity to survive and transmit among human populations. In conclusion, we provide evidence that livestock represent a reservoir for the emergence of new human-pathogenic S. aureus clones with the capacity for pandemic spread. These findings have major public health implications highlighting the importance of surveillance for early identification of emergent clones and improved transmission control measures at the human-livestock interface.
Animals are the major source of new pathogens affecting humans. However, the potential for pathogenic bacteria that originally were found in animals to switch hosts and become widely established in human populations is not clear. Here, we report the discovery of emergent clones of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that originated in livestock and switched to humans, followed by host-adaptive evolution and epidemic spread in global human populations. Our findings demonstrate that livestock can act as a reservoir for the emergence of new human bacterial clones with potential for pandemic spread, highlighting the potential role of surveillance and biosecurity measures in the agricultural setting for preventing the emergence of new human pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3747577  PMID: 23943757
5.  Use of Vitek 2 Antimicrobial Susceptibility Profile To Identify mecC in Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(8):2732-2734.
The emergence of mecC methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) poses a diagnostic challenge for clinical microbiology laboratories. Using the Vitek 2 system, we tested a panel of 896 Staphylococcus aureus isolates and found that an oxacillin-sensitive/cefoxitin-resistant profile had a sensitivity of 88.7% and a specificity of 99.5% for the identification of mecC MRSA isolates. The presence of the mecC gene, determined by bacterial whole-genome sequencing, was used as the gold standard. This profile could provide a zero-cost screening method for identification of mecC-positive MRSA strains.
PMCID: PMC3719650  PMID: 23720794
7.  Whole genome sequencing identifies zoonotic transmission of MRSA isolates with the novel mecA homologue mecC 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2013;5(4):509-515.
Several methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) lineages that carry a novel mecA homologue (mecC) have recently been described in livestock and humans. In Denmark, two independent human cases of mecC-MRSA infection have been linked to a livestock reservoir. We investigated the molecular epidemiology of the associated MRSA isolates using whole genome sequencing (WGS). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) were defined and compared to a reference genome to place the isolates into a phylogenetic context. Phylogenetic analysis revealed two distinct farm-specific clusters comprising isolates from the human case and their own livestock, whereas human and animal isolates from the same farm only differed by a small number of SNPs, which supports the likelihood of zoonotic transmission. Further analyses identified a number of genes and mutations that may be associated with host interaction and virulence. This study demonstrates that mecC-MRSA ST130 isolates are capable of transmission between animals and humans, and underscores the potential of WGS in epidemiological investigations and source tracking of bacterial infections.
PMCID: PMC3628104  PMID: 23526809
cattle; mecC; MRSA; sheep; zoonosis
9.  Influence of Host Genetics and Environment on Nasal Carriage of Staphylococcus aureus in Danish Middle-Aged and Elderly Twins 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;206(8):1178-1184.
Background. Nasal carriage is a major risk factor for Staphylococcus aureus infection. Approximately, one-quarter of adults carry S. aureus. However, the role of host genetics on S. aureus nasal carriage is unknown.
Methods. Nasal swabs were obtained from a national cohort of middle-aged and elderly Danish twins. Subjects colonized with S. aureus were identified by growth on selective plates and spa typing. A second sample was obtained from twins initially concordant for carriage. Twins found to again be colonized with S. aureus were defined as persistent carriers.
Results. The prevalence of S. aureus carriage among 617 twin pairs (monozygotic/dizygotic pairs: 112/505) was 26.3% (95% confidence interval [CI], 24.0%–28.9%). The concordance rate for carriage did not differ significantly between pairs of monozygotic (37.5%; 95% CI, 22.3%–53.8%) twins and same sex (24.2%; 95% CI, 15.4%–34.5%), and opposite sex (21.4%; 95% CI, 12.0%–33.4%) dizygotic twins. Despite shared childhoods, only 1 of 617 pairs was concordant with respect to lineage. Although heritability increased for S. aureus and lineage persistency, no significant heritability was detected.
Conclusion. In this study, host genetic factors exhibited only a modest influence on the S. aureus carrier state of middle-aged and elderly individuals.
PMCID: PMC3448969  PMID: 22872733
10.  Prevalence of infective endocarditis in patients with Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia: the value of screening with echocardiography 
Staphylococcus aureus infective endocarditis (IE) is a critical medical condition associated with a high morbidity and mortality. In the present study, we prospectively evaluated the importance of screening with echocardiography in an unselected S. aureus bacteraemia (SAB) population.
Methods and results
From 1 January 2009 to 31 August 2010, a total of 244 patients with SAB at six Danish hospitals underwent screening echocardiography. The inclusion rate was 73% of all eligible patients (n= 336), and 53 of the 244 included patients (22%; 95% CI: 17–27%) were diagnosed with definite IE. In patients with native heart valves the prevalence was 19% (95% CI: 14–25%) compared with 38% (95% CI: 20–55%) in patients with prosthetic heart valves and/or cardiac rhythm management devices (P= 0.02). No difference was found between Main Regional Hospitals and Tertiary Cardiac Hospitals, 20 vs. 23%, respectively (NS). The prevalence of IE in high-risk patients with one or more predisposing condition or clinical evidence of IE were significantly higher compared with low-risk patients with no additional risk factors (38 vs. 5%; P < 0.001). IE was associated with a higher 6 months mortality, 14(26%) vs. 28(15%) in SAB patients without IE, respectively (P < 0.05).
SAB patients carry a high risk for development of IE, which is associated with a worse prognosis compared with uncomplicated SAB. The presenting symptoms and clinical findings associated with IE are often non-specific and echocardiography should always be considered as part of the initial evaluation of SAB patients.
PMCID: PMC3117467  PMID: 21685200
Infective endocarditis; Echocardiography; Staphylococcus aureus; Screening
11.  Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus ST9 in Pigs in Thailand 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31245.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an important nosocomial and community-associated pathogen. Recently, livestock-associated MRSA (LA-MRSA) has emerged and disseminated in Europe and North America and now constitutes a considerable zoonotic burden in humans with risk factors of pig exposure, whereas the extent of the livestock reservoir is relatively unknown on other continents.
Methodology/Principal Findings
From March through April 2011, MRSA was identified in pigs from 3 out of 30 production holdings in Chang Mai Province, Thailand. Representative isolates were subjected to molecular characterization and antimicrobial susceptibility testing; all isolates had genotypic and phenotypic characteristics of LA-MRSA previously characterized in the region: they belonged to ST9, lacked the lukF-lukS genes encoding Panton-Valentine leukocidin, and were resistant to multiple non-β-lactam antimicrobials. However, unlike other Asian LA-MRSA-ST9 variants, they were spa type t337 and harbored a different staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec IX.
A novel MRSA-ST9 lineage has been established in the pig population of Thailand, which differs substantially from LA-MRSA lineages found in other areas of the continent. The emergence of novel LA-MRSA lineages in the animal agriculture setting is worrisome and poses a serious threat to global public health.
PMCID: PMC3281948  PMID: 22363594
12.  Presence of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Pigs in Peru 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28529.
We report the first detection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates in pigs in Peru. The isolates belong to a livestock-associated lineage previously reported in North America and Europe, CC398, and a highly virulent USA300-like ST8-IV variant, which is the predominant community-associated lineage in Latin America.
PMCID: PMC3234269  PMID: 22174831
13.  Evaluation of mupA EVIGENE Assay for Determination of High-Level Mupirocin Resistance in Staphylococcus aureus▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(11):4253-4255.
Mupirocin is widely used to decolonize patients carrying Staphylococcus aureus, especially methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). The aim of this study was to determine the presence of high-level mupirocin resistance by a new commercially available mupA genotypic diagnostic product, mupA EVIGENE assay (AdvanDx).
PMCID: PMC3020815  PMID: 20810775
14.  Livestock-associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus in Humans, Europe 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2011;17(3):502-505.
To estimate the proportion of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates from humans that were sequence type (ST) 398, we surveyed 24 laboratories in 17 countries in Europe in 2007. Livestock-associated MRSA ST398 accounted for only a small proportion of MRSA isolates from humans; most were from the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Austria.
PMCID: PMC3166010  PMID: 21392444
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus; MRSA; humans; livestock; domestic animals; Europe; cross-sectional studies; bacteria; dispatch
15.  Intracellular Activity of Antibiotics against Staphylococcus aureus in a Mouse Peritonitis Model ▿  
Antibiotic treatment of Staphylococcus aureus infections is often problematic due to the slow response to therapy and the high frequency of infection recurrence. The intracellular persistence of staphylococci has been recognized and could offer a good explanation for these treatment difficulties. Knowledge of the interplay between intracellular antibiotic activity and the overall outcome of infection is therefore important. Several intracellular in vitro models have been developed, but few experimental animal models have been published. The mouse peritonitis/sepsis model was used as the basic in vivo model exploring a quantitative ex vivo extra- and intracellular differentiation assay. The intracellular presence of S. aureus was documented by electron microscopy. Five antibiotics, dicloxacillin, cefuroxime, gentamicin, azithromycin, and rifampin (rifampicin), were tested in the new in vivo model; and the model was able to distinguish between their extra- and intracellular effects. The intracellular effects of the five antibiotics could be ranked as follows as the mean change in the log10 number of CFU/ml (Δlog10 CFU/ml) between treated and untreated mice after 4 h of treatment: dicloxacillin (3.70 Δlog10 CFU/ml) > cefuroxime (3.56 Δlog10 CFU/ml) > rifampin (1.86 Δlog10 CFU/ml) > gentamicin (0.61 Δlog10 CFU/ml) > azithromycin (0.21 Δlog10 CFU/ml). We could also show that the important factors during testing of intracellular activity in vivo are the size, number, and frequency of doses; the time of exposure; and the timing between the start of infection and treatment. A poor correlation between the intracellular accumulation of the antibiotics and the actual intracellular effect was found. This stresses the importance of performing experimental studies, like those with the new in vivo model described here, to measure actual intracellular activity instead of making predictions based on cellular pharmacokinetic and MICs.
PMCID: PMC2681564  PMID: 19223616
16.  Staphylococcus lugdunensis, a Common Cause of Skin and Soft Tissue Infections in the Community▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(4):946-950.
Staphylococcus lugdunensis, a rare cause of severe infections such as native valve endocarditis, often causes superficial skin infections similar to Staphylococcus aureus infections. We initiated a study to optimize the identification methods in the routine laboratory, followed by a population-based epidemiologic analysis of patients infected with S. lugdunensis in Viborg County, Denmark. Recognition of a characteristic Eikenella corrodens-like odor on Columbia sheep blood agar combined with colony pleomorphism and prominent β-hemolysis after 2 days of incubation, confirmed by API-ID-32 Staph, led to an 11-fold increase in the detection of S. lugdunensis. By these methods we found 491 S. lugdunensis infections in 4 years, corresponding to an incidence of 53 per 100,000 per year, an increase from 5 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in the preceding years. Seventy-five percent of the cases were found in general practice; these were dominated by skin abscesses (36%), wound infections (25%), and paronychias (13%). Fifty-six percent of the infections occurred below the waist, and toes were the most frequently infected site (21%). Only 3% of the patients suffered from severe invasive infections. The median age was 52 years, and the male/female ratio was 0.69. Our study shows that S. lugdunensis is a common cause of skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTI) and is probably underrated by many laboratories. S. lugdunensis should be accepted as a significant pathogen in SSTI and should be looked for in all routine bacteriological examinations, and clinicians should be acquainted with the name and the pathology of the bacterium.
PMCID: PMC2668335  PMID: 19244465
17.  Pigs as Source of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus CC398 Infections in Humans, Denmark 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2008;14(9):1383-1389.
Persons living or working on farms, particularly pig farms, are at increased risk for infection.
An emerging subtype of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), clonal complex (CC) 398, is associated with animals, particularly pigs. We conducted a matched case–control and a case–case study comparing 21 CC398 case-patients with 2 controls randomly selected from the Danish Civil Registry and 2 case-patients infected with MRSA other than CC398. On farms of case-patients, animals were examined for MRSA. Thirteen case-patients reported pig exposure. Living or working on farms with animals was an independent risk factor for CC398 in the case–control (matched odds ratio [MOR] 35.4, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.7–469.8) and the case–case study (MOR 14.5, 95%CI 2.7–76.7). History of hospitalization was associated with an increased risk only in the case–control study (MOR 11.4, 95% CI 1.4–94.8). A total of 23 of 50 pigs on 4 of 5 farms were positive for CC398. Our results, corroborated by microbiologic testing, demonstrate that pigs are a source of CC398 in Denmark.
PMCID: PMC2603104  PMID: 18760004
Staphylococcus aureus; methicillin resistance; community-acquired infections; epidemiology; case-control studies; animals; domestic swine (pig); CC398; research
18.  Danish Integrated Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring and Research Program 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2007;13(11):1633-1639.
This program has led to changes in the use of antimicrobial agents in Denmark and other countries.
Resistance to antimicrobial agents is an emerging problem worldwide. Awareness of the undesirable consequences of its widespread occurrence has led to the initiation of antimicrobial agent resistance monitoring programs in several countries. In 1995, Denmark was the first country to establish a systematic and continuous monitoring program of antimicrobial drug consumption and antimicrobial agent resistance in animals, food, and humans, the Danish Integrated Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring and Research Program (DANMAP). Monitoring of antimicrobial drug resistance and a range of research activities related to DANMAP have contributed to restrictions or bans of use of several antimicrobial agents in food animals in Denmark and other European Union countries.
PMCID: PMC3375779  PMID: 18217544
Antibiotics; resistance; humans; epidemiology; DANMAP; perspective
19.  Genome Analysis of Staphylococcus aureus ST291, a Double Locus Variant of ST398, Reveals a Distinct Genetic Lineage 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63008.
Staphylococcus aureus ST291 has been reported as a homologue recombinant double locus variant of the livestock associated S. aureus ST398. However, whole genome sequencing show that ST291 is a unique genetic lineage with highly variable content within its accessory genome compared to both human and livestock associated genome sequenced CC398s.
PMCID: PMC3660392  PMID: 23704886
20.  Meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus with a novel mecA homologue in human and bovine populations in the UK and Denmark: a descriptive study 
The Lancet Infectious Diseases  2011;11(8):595-603.
Animals can act as a reservoir and source for the emergence of novel meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) clones in human beings. Here, we report the discovery of a strain of S aureus (LGA251) isolated from bulk milk that was phenotypically resistant to meticillin but tested negative for the mecA gene and a preliminary investigation of the extent to which such strains are present in bovine and human populations.
Isolates of bovine MRSA were obtained from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency in the UK, and isolates of human MRSA were obtained from diagnostic or reference laboratories (two in the UK and one in Denmark). From these collections, we searched for mecA PCR-negative bovine and human S aureus isolates showing phenotypic meticillin resistance. We used whole-genome sequencing to establish the genetic basis for the observed antibiotic resistance.
A divergent mecA homologue (mecALGA251) was discovered in the LGA251 genome located in a novel staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec element, designated type-XI SCCmec. The mecALGA251 was 70% identical to S aureus mecA homologues and was initially detected in 15 S aureus isolates from dairy cattle in England. These isolates were from three different multilocus sequence type lineages (CC130, CC705, and ST425); spa type t843 (associated with CC130) was identified in 60% of bovine isolates. When human mecA-negative MRSA isolates were tested, the mecALGA251 homologue was identified in 12 of 16 isolates from Scotland, 15 of 26 from England, and 24 of 32 from Denmark. As in cows, t843 was the most common spa type detected in human beings.
Although routine culture and antimicrobial susceptibility testing will identify S aureus isolates with this novel mecA homologue as meticillin resistant, present confirmatory methods will not identify them as MRSA. New diagnostic guidelines for the detection of MRSA should consider the inclusion of tests for mecALGA251.
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Higher Education Funding Council for England, Isaac Newton Trust (University of Cambridge), and the Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC3829197  PMID: 21641281

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