C. difficile and MRSA: Relatively low prevalence in Canadian pigs

01-08-2011 | |

A study to discover prevalence of Clostridium difficile and Methicilin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in pigs in Canadian herds has yielded that relatively low percentages of farms appear to be infected.

This was the conclusion of a report in BioMed Central Veterinary Research.

Both C. difficile and MRSA are critical human pathogens and of increasing concern in food animals. Because of the apparent impact of age on prevalence of these organisms, studies of slaughter age pigs are important when considering the potential for contamination of food.

This study evaluated C. difficile and MRSA shedding by slaughter age pigs from farms across Canada. Results: Clostridium difficile was isolated from 30/436 (6.9%) samples from 15/45 (33%) farms. Ribotype 078 was the most common strain, accounting for 67% of isolates.

MRSA was isolated from 21/460 (4.6%) pigs from 5/46 (11%) farms. The prevalence in pigs after adjusting for clustering at the herd level was 0.2%.

Both MRSA and C. difficile samples were collected from 45 farms. Both MRSA and C. difficile were detected on 2 (4.4%), with C. difficile only on 13 (29%), MRSA only on 3 (6.7%) and neither on 27 (60%).

Conclusions: The prevalence of C. difficile and MRSA in slaughter agepigs was relatively low, particularly in comparison with studies involving younger pigs.

The predominance of C. difficile ribotype 078 and MRSA ST398 was not surprising, but there was diversity in strain types and the majority of isolates of both organisms were strains that can be found in humans.

While the prevalence of C. difficile and MRSA in slaughter age pigs was relatively low, there is clearly potential for contamination of meat from healthy pigs carrying this pathogen into slaughterhouses.

Related website:
BioMed Central

ter Beek
Vincent ter Beek Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world