MecA gene and MRSA isolated from dairy farms in East Java – Indonesia

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Milk borne disease (MBD) is a serious problem in the public health sector which can be caused by a variety of pathogenic   bacteria, one of them is Staphylococcus aureus. These opportunistic pathogens that are often found in humans and animals can  cause  a  diverse  spectrum  of  diseases  from  minor  skin infections  to  systemic diseases such  as  pneumonia  and  meningitis. Some researchers suggest that S. aureus can be transmitted to humans     through contamination   of   milk, unprocessed   milk,   and   milk products. S. aureus is commonly found in the skin and mucosa of ruminants, which have sub-clinical or clinical mastitis which is a source of contamination in dairy products.

A research report reveals that the presence of multiple antibiotic resistance from S.  aureus creates  new  problems for   health   practitioners   and   researchers.  There are studies on phenotypic and genotypic antibiotic resistance stating that since 1962 methicillin-resistant Staphylococci (MRS) have been found and the  first  case  of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has occurred in humans but has now  been detected  in  animals.  MRSA resistance to beta-lactam antibiotics is caused by various mechanisms, one of them is the production   of unusual penicillin-binding protein (PBP), which forms PBP2 thereby weakening the affinity for the antibiotic β-lactam expressed by the mecA. MecA gene detection using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)  method is  the  gold standard  for  detecting  MRSA,  but  cannot  be  done  in  all clinical  laboratories  due  to  various  facilities, capabilities and costs. The difficulty  of  using PCR  in  an  effort  to  detect  the presence  of  MRSA  can  be reduced  by  using Cefoxitin disc  diffusion, Oxacillin disc diffusion combination of Oxacillin Resistance Screen Agar (ORSA).

The purpose of this study was to detect and evaluate the level of MRSA contamination in dairy cow milk in East Java and to compare the phenotypic detection method using screening with Cefoxitine disc diffusion, Oxacillin disc diffusion combination of Oxacillin Resistance Screen Agar (ORSA) and confirm genotypically using PCR to detect the MecA gene. The sensitivity and specificity of the test will show the effectiveness and ease of application of the MRSA strain detection method. Also, this research information is very important to support strategic and technical decision making by relevant institutions for mitigation and prevention of impacts on aspects of public health in food safety.

Milk-borne diseases (MBD)  are  problems  that  must  be controlled  in  the  public  health  sector  as they do  not  only  affect human  health  but  also  have  an  impact  on  the  economic sector.  Research on antimicrobial drug resistance of S. aureus reports that related dairy product contamination is not only limited to developing countries but also occurs in developed countries. Some researchers report that bacterial outbreaks  in  milk  and  dairy  products  in  countries  going around  2-6%. Improper food handling and unhygienic practices during the production process, packaging to distribution have a significant role in the occurrence of food poisoning.  Another researcher stated that cow’s   milk   can   transmit   various  pathogens   including Staphylococci strains.

Staphylococcus  aureus is  a  pathogenic  agent  that  can cause   various   infectious   diseases   from cutaneous  to systemic infections in immunocompetent hosts, resulting in death. In this study, out of 150 milk samples, 61%  S.  aureus contamination was detected. This  study  has  a  purposive  design  conducted  specifically to  detect  the  presence  of Staphylococci strains in dairy cows farms that have low hygiene milking thereby increasing the potential for contaminants in cow’s milk.  In this regard, research in North India states that differences in the number of isolates found can be influenced by differences   in   study   design   such   as   population   and geographic distribution of samples, types of antibiotics used, and infection control practices.

In  this  study,  it  can  be  concluded  that  the  presence  of milk  contamination  by MRSA  can  be  caused  by  various factors,  one  of  which  is  low  hygiene  milking.  Besides, MRSA contamination is  very  dangerous  for  public  health,   which   will   increase   the   potential   spread   of Staphylococcal infection which is difficult to treat.  So there is urgency for clinical microbiology identification to be able to do accurate, rapid and cost-effective identification    of    MRSA    contamination    in transmission   media   such   as   food   from   animal   origin. Genotypic detection using PCR to detect the presence of the mecA  gene  is the  golden  standard  of  MRSA  detection, but  in  a  laboratory  that  unable  to  do  molecular  testing  can use Cefoxitin disk diffusion as a marker for MR detection. This is based on the ability of the Cefoxitin disc diffusion test in detecting mecA gene  expression  so  that  it  can  be  a solution    as    an    MRSA    screening    instrument    more effectively  and  efficiently  in  cost,  technical applications, and media preparation.

Author: Dr. Mustofa Helmi Effendi, drh., DTAPH

Details of this research can be viewed at:

Ramandinianto, S.C., Khairullah, A.R., Effendi, M.H. 2020.  MecA gene and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) isolated from dairy farms in East Java, Indonesia.  BIODIVERSITAS,  21(8):  3562-3568.

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