Environmental methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus in a veterinary teaching hospital during a nonoutbreak period

Armando E. Hoet, Amanda Johnson, Rocio C. Nava-Hoet, Shane Bateman, Andrew Hillier, John Dyce, Wondwossen A. Gebreyes, Thomas E. Wittum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Concurrent to reports of zoonotic and nosocomial transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in veterinary settings, recent evidence indicates that the environment in veterinary hospitals may be a potential source of MRSA. The present report is a cross-sectional study to determine the prevalence of MRSA on specific human and animal contact surfaces at a large veterinary hospital during a nonoutbreak period. A total of 156 samples were collected using Swiffers® or premoistened swabs from the small animal, equine, and food animal sections. MRSA was isolated and identified by pre-enrichment culture and standard microbiology procedures, including growth on Mueller-Hinton agar supplemented with NaCl and oxacillin, and by detection of the mecA gene. Staphylococcal chromosome cassette mec (SCCmec) typing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis profile were also determined. MRSA was detected in 12% (19/157) of the hospital environments sampled. The prevalence of MRSA in the small animal, equine, and food animal areas were 16%, 4%, and 0%, respectively. Sixteen of the MRSA isolates from the small animal section were classified as USA100, SCCmec type II, two of which had pulsed-field gel electrophoresis pattern that does not conform to any known type. The one isolate obtained from the equine section was classified as USA500, SCCmec type IV. The molecular epidemiological analysis revealed a very diverse population of MRSA isolates circulating in the hospital; however, in some instances, multiple locations/surfaces, not directly associated, had the same MRSA clone. No significant difference was observed between animal and human contact surfaces in regard to prevalence and type of isolates. Surfaces touched by multiple people (doors) and patients (carts) were frequently contaminated with MRSA. The results from this study indicate that MRSA is present in the environment even during nonoutbreak periods. This study also identified specific surfaces in a veterinary environment that need to be targeted when designing and executing infection control programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-615
Number of pages7
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • MRSA
  • environment
  • nosocomial
  • veterinary hospital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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