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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence and characteristics of methicillin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci from livestock, chicken carcasses, bulk tank milk, minced meat, and contact persons

Helen Huber1, Dominik Ziegler2, Valentin Pflüger2, Guido Vogel2, Claudio Zweifel1 and Roger Stephan1*

Author affiliations

1 Institute for Food Safety and Hygiene, Vetsuisse Faculty University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 272, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

2 Mabritec AG, Lörracherstrasse 50, Postfach 320, 4125 Riehen BS, Switzerland

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Citation and License

BMC Veterinary Research 2011, 7:6  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-7-6

Published: 27 January 2011



Methicillin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci (MR-CNS) are of increasing importance to animal and public health. In veterinary medicine and along the meat and milk production line, only limited data were so far available on MR-CNS characteristics. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the prevalence of MR-CNS, to identify the detected staphylococci to species level, and to assess the antibiotic resistance profiles of isolated MR-CNS strains.


After two-step enrichment and growth on chromogenic agar, MR-CNS were detected in 48.2% of samples from livestock and chicken carcasses, 46.4% of samples from bulk tank milk and minced meat, and 49.3% of human samples. Using matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS), 414 selected MR-CNS strains belonged to seven different species (S. sciuri, 32.6%; S. fleurettii, 25.1%; S. haemolyticus, 17.4%; S. epidermidis, 14.5%, S. lentus, 9.2%; S. warneri, 0.7%; S. cohnii, 0.5%). S. sciuri and S. fleurettii thereby predominated in livestock, BTM and minced meat samples, whereas S. epidermidis and S. haemolyticus predominated in human samples. In addition to beta-lactam resistance, 33-49% of all 414 strains were resistant to certain non-beta-lactam antibiotics (ciproflaxacin, clindamycin, erythromycin, tetracycline).


A high prevalence of MR-CNS was found in livestock production. This is of concern in view of potential spread of mecA to S. aureus (MRSA). Multiresistant CNS strains might become an emerging problem for veterinary medicine. For species identification of MR-CNS isolated from different origins, MALDI-TOF MS proved to be a fast and reliable tool and is suitable for screening of large sample amounts.