Antibiotics (Basel). 2021 Jun 5;10(6):676. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics10060676.
Swine farming as a source of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been well documented. Methicillin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci (MRCoNS) have been less studied, but their importance as pathogens is increasing. MRCoNS are indeed considered relevant nosocomial pathogens; identifying putative sources of MRCoNS is thus gaining importance to prevent human health hazards. In the present study, we investigated MRSA and MRCoNS in animals and environment in five pigsties in a high farm-density area of northwestern Italy. Farms were three intensive, one intensive with antibiotic-free finishing, and one organic. We tested nasal swabs from 195 animals and 26 environmental samples from three production phases: post-weaning, finishing and female breeders. Phenotypic tests, including MALDI-TOF MS, were used for the identification of Staphylococcus species; PCR and nucleotide sequencing confirmed resistance and bacterial species. MRCoNS were recovered in 64.5% of nasal swabs, in all farms and animal categories, while MRSA was detected only in one post-weaning sample in one farm. The lowest prevalence of MRCoNS was detected in pigs from the organic farm and in the finishing of the antibiotic-free farm. MRCoNS were mainly Staphylococcus sciuri, but we also recovered S. pasteuri, S. haemolyticus, S. cohnii, S. equorum and S. xylosus. Fifteen environmental samples were positive for MRCoNS, which were mainly S. sciuri; no MRSA was found in the farms' environment. The analyses of the mecA gene and the PBP2-a protein highlighted the same mecA fragment in strains of S. aureus, S. sciuri and S. haemolyticus. Our results show the emergence of MRCoNS carrying the mecA gene in swine farms. Moreover, they suggest that this gene might be horizontally transferred from MRCoNS to bacterial species more relevant for human health, such as S. aureus.