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High prevalence of nasal MRSA carriage in slaughterhouse workers in contact with live pigs in The Netherlands

  • B. A. G. L. VAN CLEEF (a1) (a2), E. M. BROENS (a1) (a3), A. VOSS (a4), X. W. HUIJSDENS (a1), L. ZÜCHNER (a5), B. H. B. VAN BENTHEM (a1), J. A. J. W. KLUYTMANS (a2), M. N. MULDERS (a1) and A. W. VAN DE GIESSEN (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 09 February 2010

Livestock-associated MRSA has been found in various animals, livestock farmers and retail meat. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and determinants of nasal MRSA carriage in pig slaughterhouse workers. Three large pig slaughterhouses in The Netherlands were studied in 2008 using human and environmental samples. The overall prevalence of nasal MRSA carriage in employees of pig slaughterhouses was 5·6% (14/249) (95% CI 3·4–9·2) and working with live pigs was the single most important factor for being MRSA positive (OR 38·2, P<0·0001). At the start of the day MRSA was only found in environmental samples from the lairages (10/12), whereas at the end of the day MRSA was found in the lairages (11/12), the dirty (5/12) and clean (3/12) areas and green offal (1/3). The MRSA status of the environmental samples correlated well with the MRSA status of humans working in these sections (r=0·75). In conclusion, a high prevalence of nasal MRSA carriage was found in pig-slaughterhouse workers, and working with live pigs is the most important risk factor. Exact transmission routes from animals to humans remain to be elucidated in order to enable application of targeted preventive measures.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Drs B. A. G. L. van Cleef, Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, PO Box 1, 3720BABilthoven, The Netherlands. (Email:
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