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Prevalence of livestock-associated MRSA in broiler flocks and risk factors for slaughterhouse personnel in The Netherlands

  • M. N. MULDERS (a1), A. P. J. HAENEN (a1), P. L. GEENEN (a1), P. C. VESSEUR (a2), E. S. POLDERVAART (a3), T. BOSCH (a1), X. W. HUIJSDENS (a1), P. D. HENGEVELD (a1), W. D. C. DAM-DEISZ (a1), E. A. M. GRAAT (a4), D. MEVIUS (a5) (a6), A. VOSS (a7) and A. W. VAN DE GIESSEN (a1)...

To determine methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriage in poultry and slaughterhouse personnel, 40 Dutch broiler flocks, in six slaughterhouses and 466 personnel were sampled. Of the employees, 26 were positive (5·6%), indicating a higher risk of exposure when compared to the general Dutch population (0·1%). This risk was significantly higher for personnel having contact with live animals (5·2%) – especially hanging broilers on the slaughterline (20·0%) – than for all other personnel (1·9%). Conventional electric stunning conferred a significantly higher risk of MRSA carriage for employees than CO2 stunning (9·7% vs. 2·0%). A total of 405 broilers were sampled upon their arrival at the slaughterhouse, of which 6·9% were positive. These broilers originated from 40 Dutch slaughter flocks of which 35·0% were positive. MRSA contamination in the different compartments of slaughterhouses increased during the production day, from 8% to 35%. Of the 119 MRSA isolates, predominantly livestock-associated MRSA ST398 was found, although 27·7% belonged to ST9 (spa type t1430). There is an increased risk of MRSA carriage in personnel working at broiler slaughterhouses, particularly those having contact with live animals.

Corresponding author
*Author for correspondence: Dr M. N. Mulders, Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit, Centre for Infectious Disease Control Netherlands (CIb), National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), P.O. Box 1, NL-3720 BA Bilthoven, The Netherlands. (Email:
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Epidemiology & Infection
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