Purpose: We conducted a cross-sectional study to measure the prevalence of methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization, with a particular focus on livestock associated (LA)-MRSA in farmers working in contact with livestock (sheep) in one Italian region. Furthermore, we have assessed the antimicrobial resistance pattern of isolates and the association of carriage with specific characteristic of farms and working tasks. Patients and methods: Demographic data, occupational history, and contact with animals information was collected. Nasal and oropharyngeal swabs were collected and all samples were tested for the isolation and identification of S. aureus. Isolates were examined for antimicrobial susceptibility and all MRSA strains underwent molecular analyses through multiple-locus variable number of tandem repeat analysis (MLVA). Results: A total of 115 sheep farms and 275 sheep farmers were enrolled. MRSA colonized workers were found in three farms; S. aureus was isolated in 97 workers (35.5%), whereas MRSA was isolated in 3 (1.1%) workers. All MRSA isolates were classified as multidrug resistant. Two of the MRSA isolates were resistant to quinupristin/dalfopristin (QDA), mupirocin, erythromycin, and tetracycline. Among methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA), 32 (34%) were resistant to tetracycline, 31 (33%) to erythromycin, 26 (27.6%) to QDA, and 22 (23.4%) to linezolid and clindamycin. One MRSA belonged to MLVA complex (MC) 001, found to colonize both humans and animals. Conclusion: The picture of MRSA transmission among sheep farmers does not seem to be critical, although there is the need to improve adequate control measures to prevent and minimize any biological risk in sheep farms for both animal and human health. Specific monitoring/surveillance programs would help in better understanding the epidemiology of resistant strains.
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