There is increasing concern about the impact on public health of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) associated with animal food products. MRSA remains a serious problem because of the high incidence and multidrug resistance of the strains, even for strains isolated from foods, food environments and food handlers. The objectives of this study are: (i) to evaluate the susceptibility of S. aureus strains isolated from food, food handlers and food-processing environments to 14 antibiotics currently used in veterinary and human therapy; (ii) to assess the presence of the mecA gene. A total of 1007 samples were collected from food, food handlers, and environments and were analyzed for the presence of S. aureus. S. aureus was present in 165 of the 1007 samples. A total of 157 isolates were methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) and 8 isolates were MRSA. In particular, out of 8 MRSA strains detected, 4 strains harboured the mecA gene. All MRSA strains were resistant to at least one of the tested antibiotics and 6 strains demonstrated multi-resistance. Considering the high level of resistances in S. aureus and the isolation of MRSA strains, the surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and the spreading of this pathogen is of crucial importance in the food production chain. These data are useful in improving background data on antimicrobial resistance of S. aureus isolated from food, processing environments and food handlers, supporting the prudent use of antibiotics and the development of international control programs.
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