RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Foods from black market at EU border as a neglected route of potential methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus transmission.

The illegal entrance of foods to EU through black markets at the EU borders can constitute a neglected route of dissemination of foodborne pathogens, and in particular of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In this study, we have assessed the presence of MRSA in foods sold in a black market at an EU border (the southeast part of Romania, on the border with Republic of Moldavia). We performed a search for MRSA among 200 food samples collected from 2012 to 2013. All S. aureus were studied by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. MRSA isolates were further characterized by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and SCCmec typing, and tested for the presence of Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) virulence factors. Overall, 32 S. aureus isolates were recovered from 16 food samples (8%). One isolate detected in a pork lard sample was MRSA (0.5%). PFGE with the restriction enzyme SmaI revealed 12 genotypes among the 32 S. aureus isolates. The MRSA isolate belonged to sequence type 398, harbored SCCmec type V, tested negative for the presence of the PVL genes and was resistant to ciprofloxacin, tetracycline and cefazolin, besides all β-lactams. Among 31 methicillin-sensitive S. aureus (MSSA), 29% were resistant to penicillin, 9.7% to tetracycline and 3.2% to ciprofloxacin. In conclusion, in this study we report the presence of livestock-associated MRSA in foods sold in a black market at an EU border: ST398-MRSA-V. These results confirm the potential role of food in the dissemination of MRSA lineages among population, and the potential role of illegally introduced food to EU in the prevalence and evolution of MRSA clones in the community.

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