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Prevalence, antibiotic resistance and molecular characterisation of Staphylococcus aureus in pigs at agricultural fairs in the USA
  1. A. E. Dressler, MS1,
  2. R. P. Scheibel, BS1,
  3. S Wardyn, MS1,
  4. A. L. Harper, MPH1,
  5. B. M. Hanson, MS1,
  6. J. S. Kroeger, MS2,
  7. D. J. Diekema, MD2,
  8. J. B. Bender, DVM, MS3,
  9. G. C. Gray, MD, MPH, FIDSA4 and
  10. T. C. Smith, PhD1
  1. Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, University of Iowa College of Public Health, 105 River Street S431, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA
  2. University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, 200 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA
  3. Center for Animal Health and Food Safety, University of Minnesota, 136F ABLMS 1354 Eckles Avenue, St Paul, MN 55108, USA
  4. College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida, Box 100188101 S. Newell Dr, Suite 2150A Gainesville, FL 32610, USA
  1. Correspondence to T. C. Smith, e-mail: tara-smith{at}

Fairs and petting zoos have been associated with outbreaks of zoonotic disease. Previously, the presence of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was documented in commercial pigs; therefore, it was hypothesised that antibiotic-resistant S aureus may also occur in pigs exhibited at agricultural fairs. To test this hypothesis, 157 pigs were swabbed at two state fairs in 2008 to 2009. Both nares were sampled and cultures were grown in enrichment broth, then plated onto selective MRSA plates and blood plates. S aureus was confirmed using phenotypic and molecular methods, and was analysed using spa typing, gene-specific polymerase chain reaction and antibiotic susceptibility testing. The presence of S aureus was confirmed in samples collected from pigs exhibited at USA pig shows. Twenty-five of 157 (15.9 per cent) samples were positive for S aureus. Two isolates (8 per cent) were resistant to meticillin; 23/25 (92 per cent), 14/25 (56 per cent) and 15/25 (60 per cent) were resistant to tetracycline, erythromycin and clindamycin, respectively. spa typing revealed multiple isolates of spa type t034 (9/25, 36 per cent) and t337 (7/25, 28 per cent) and singletons of t002, t209, t526, t1236, t1334, t1683, t3075, t5784 and t5883. These results verify the presence of antibiotic-resistant S aureus in pigs exhibited at USA fairs, suggesting that pigs are a potential reservoir for S aureus within this environment.

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