Staphylococcus aureus is an opportunistic pathogen and common constituent of the skin and mucosal membrane microbiota of humans. The evolution of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) is a growing cause for concern in clinical and community settings. S. aureus is not the only species of bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Other potential pathogens have also developed antibiotic resistance. Methicillin resistance is granted by the mecA cassette, which encodes the penicillin binding protein 2a (PBP2a). Due to the weak affinity of PBP2a for penicillin, methicillin-resistant isolates of Staphylococcus (MRS) are able to survive and reproduce in the presence of -lactam antibiotics making the infections difficult to treat. Interspecies transmission of community-associated MRSA is suspected between humans and domestic animals due to the close interactions between people and their pets. The focus of this study was to determine the prevalence of MRSA among cats housed at two non-kill shelters and one kill shelter in the South Texas Coastal Bend. Ninety-eight samples were collected by swabbing the pharyngeal and perianal areas of 49 cats resulting in 67 isolates from 44 of the 49 cats. Through biochemical testing, the organisms were identified at the generic level as Staphylococcus, but they were not identified as S. aureus because all the isolated samples were coagulase-negative. Sixteen of the 44 Staphylococcus-positive cats tested positive for methicillin-resistance. MRS was prevalent among cats housed at both, non-kill and kill shelters in the South Texas Coastal Bend, where 32.7% of felines tested positive. Although MRS samples were isolated from both pharyngeal and perianal swabs, none were isolated from fecal material. This suggests the perianal region is not inoculated by feces containing Staphylococcus, but rather through social and self-grooming by Staphylococcus-carrying cats. Although the focus of this study was to identify MRSA in these companion animals, the results indicate that S. aureus is not found on these cats, but another species of Staphylococcus is quite prevalent and methicillin-resistant.
August 2, 2016
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