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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Low MRSA prevalence in horses at farm level

Annelies Van den Eede1, Ann Martens1, Isabelle Feryn1, Wannes Vanderhaeghen2, Urszula Lipinska3, Frank Gasthuys1, Patrick Butaye23, Freddy Haesebrouck3 and Katleen Hermans3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery and Anaesthesiology of Domestic Animals, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820, Merelbeke, Belgium

2 Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre, CODA-CERVA-VAR, Groeselenberg 99, 1180, Ukkel, Belgium

3 Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Avian Diseases, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820, Merelbeke, Belgium

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BMC Veterinary Research 2012, 8:213  doi:10.1186/1746-6148-8-213

Published: 7 November 2012



In Europe, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) belonging to the clonal complex (CC) 398 has become an important pathogen in horses, circulating in equine clinics and causing both colonization and infection. Whether equine MRSA is bound to hospitals or can also circulate in the general horse population is currently unknown. This study, therefore, reports the nasal and perianal MRSA screening of 189 horses on 10 farms in a suspected high prevalence region (East- and West-Flanders, Belgium).


Only one horse (0.53%) from one farm (10%) tested positive in the nose. It carried a spa type t011-SCCmecV isolate, resistant to β-lactams and tetracycline, which is typical for livestock-associated MRSA CC398.


In the region tested here, horses on horse farms seem unlikely to substantially contribute to the large animal associated ST398 MRSA reservoir present at intensive animal production units.

Horse; Staphylococcus aureus; MRSA; Methicillin resistance; Horse farm