Genomic surveillance reveals low prevalence of livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in the East of England

20 Jul 2017

Livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) is an emerging problem in many parts of the world. LA-MRSA has been isolated previously from animals and humans in the United Kingdom (UK), but the prevalence is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and to describe the molecular epidemiology of LA-MRSA isolated in the East of England (broadly Cambridge and the surrounding area). We accessed whole genome sequence data for 2,283 MRSA isolates from 1,465 people identified during a 12-month prospective study between 2012 and 2013 conducted in the East of England, United Kingdom. This laboratory serves four hospitals and 75 general practices. We screened the collection for multilocus sequence types (STs) and for host specific resistance and virulence factors previously associated with LA-MRSA. We identified 13 putative LA-MRSA isolates from 12 individuals, giving an estimated prevalence of 0.82% (95% CI 0.47% to 1.43%). Twelve isolates were mecC-MRSA (ten CC130, one ST425 and one ST1943) and single isolate was ST398. Our data demonstrate a low burden of LA-MRSA in the East of England, but the detection of mecC-MRSA and ST398 indicates the need for vigilance. Genomic surveillance provides a mechanism to detect and track the emergence and spread of MRSA clones of human importance.