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Genomic analysis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolated from poultry and occupational farm workers in Umgungundlovu District, South Africa

Amoako, Daniel Gyamfi, Somboro, Anou Moise, Abia, Akebe Luther King, Allam, Mushal, Ismail, Arshad, Bester, Linda, Essack, Sabiha Yusuf
The Science of the total environment 2019 v.670 pp. 704-716
antibiotic resistance, antibiotic resistance genes, farm labor, farm to fork, farms, food chain, genetic relationships, genomics, humans, methicillin, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, multiple drug resistance, phenotype, phylogeny, plasmids, poultry, poultry production, sequence analysis, slaughterhouses, transposons, South Africa
This study detected methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolates circulating in poultry and farm workers at an intensive poultry production system in uMgungundlovu, South Africa and established the genetic relatedness and characteristics of the isolates using whole genome sequencing (WGS). A total of 145 S. aureus were isolated from poultry (120) and occupational workers (25) in the “farm to fork” continuum (farm, transport, slaughterhouse, and retail points). Twelve MRSA (12/145; 8.3%) isolates were found in the poultry food-chain. MRSA isolates were subjected to antibiotic susceptibility testing against a panel of 20 antibiotics using the broth dilution method and their whole genome was sequenced via the Illumina MiSeq. All the MRSA isolates were multi-drug resistant (MDR) and carried the mecA gene on the SCCmec mobile genetic element (MGE). The majority (11/12) of the MRSA isolates circulating between humans and animals in the continuum belonged to a human-associated clone, ST612-CC8-t1257-SCCmec_IVd (2B), previously reported in South Africa. Other MGEs present in the isolates included: plasmid replicons based on Rep 7 and 20, insertion sequences (IS1182), and prophages (phi2958PVL). Genomic analysis identified a distinct acquired antibiotic resistome in the clone, which accurately predicted the phenotypic antibiograms. Phylogenetic analysis clustered the isolates within the major cluster (I), suggesting the spread of the local dominant multidrug resistance MRSA clone ST612-CC8-t1257-SCCmec_IVd (2B) between humans and animals along the ‘farm to fork’ continuum. The findings of this study suggest the need to establish appropriate control measures to curb the spread of MDR-MRSA in the food chain.