Molecular and phenotypic characterization of Staphylococcus aureus strains isolated from carcass swabs and carcass drips of chickens slaughtered in the informal market in Gauteng Province, South Africa

14 Jan 2021

The study was conducted to characterize Staphylococcus aureus strains from swabs and drips of dressed chicken carcasses sold at outlets in six townships in the informal market in Gauteng province, South Africa, using molecular and phenotypic methods. Seven genes (6 toxins and 1 antimicrobial resistance) comprising staphylococcal enterotoxin A (SEA), B (SEB), C (SEC), D (SED), exfoliative toxin A, toxic shock syndrome toxin, and MecA encoding methicillin resistance were assayed using polymerase chain reaction. The resistance of the S. aureus strains to 18 antimicrobial agents was determined using the disk diffusion method. The frequency of detection of the six toxin genes was sea (52.2%), followed by seb (10.9%), sec (6.5%), sed (2.2%), eta (93.5%), and tst (19.6%). The mecA gene was detected in 4.3% of the isolates. The predominant profiles of toxin genes detected were sea‐eta (37.0%). All 63 isolates of S. aureus were resistant to one or more antimicrobial agents. The frequency of resistance was high to spectinomycin (98.4%), nalidixic acid (85.7%), and penicillin (84.1%), but low to gentamycin (1.6%) and cefotaxime (1.6%). The high frequency of toxin genes and antimicrobial resistance gene observed in S. aureus isolates from chicken could pose a challenge to food safety and may have therapeutic and zoonotic implications.