Whereas the emergence of livestock-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA) clonal complex 398 (CC398) in animal husbandry and its transmission to humans are well documented, less is known about factors driving the epidemic spread of this zoonotic lineage within the human population. One factor could be the bacteriophage phi3, which is rarely detected in S. aureus isolates from animals but commonly found among isolates from humans, including those of the human-adapted methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) CC398 clade. The proportion of phi3-carrying MRSA spa-CC011 isolates, which constitute presumptively LA-MRSA within the multilocus sequence type (MLST) clonal complex 398, was systematically assessed for a period of 16 years to investigate the role of phi3 in the adaptation process of LA-MRSA to the human host. For this purpose, 632 MRSA spa-CC011 isolates from patients of a university hospital located in a pig farming-dense area in Germany were analyzed. Livestock-associated acquisition of MRSA spa-CC011 was previously reported as having increased from 1.8% in 2000 to 29.4% in 2014 in MRSA-positive patients admitted to this hospital. However, in this study, the proportion of phi3-carrying isolates rose only from 1.1% (2000 to 2006) to 3.9% (2007 to 2015). Characterization of the phi3 genomes revealed 12 different phage types ranging in size from 40,712 kb up to 44,003 kb, with four hitherto unknown integration sites (genes or intergenic regions) and several modified bacterial attachment (attB) sites. In contrast to the MSSA CC398 clade, phi3 acquisition seems to be no major driver for the readaptation of MRSA spa-CC011 to the human host. Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.
Journal: Journal of clinical microbiology