cfr and fexA genes in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus from humans and livestock in the Netherlands

Leo M Schouls, Kees Veldman, Michael S M Brouwer, Cindy Dierikx, Sandra Witteveen, Marga van Santen-Verheuvel, Antoni P A Hendrickx, Fabian Landman, Paul Hengeveld, Bart Wullings, Michel Rapallini, Ben Wit, Engeline van Duijkeren*, Dutch MRSA surveillance study group, Suzan van Mens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Although the Netherlands is a country with a low endemic level of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a national MRSA surveillance has been in place since 1989. In 2003 livestock emerged as a major reservoir of MRSA and currently livestock-associated MRSA (clonal complex CC398) make up 25% of all surveillance isolates. To assess possible transfer of resistant strains or resistance genes, MRSA obtained from humans and animals were characterized in detail.

METHODS: The sequenced genomes of 6327 MRSA surveillance isolates from humans and from 332 CC398 isolates from livestock-related samples were analyzed and resistance genes were identified. Several isolates were subjected to long-read sequencing to reconstruct chromosomes and plasmids.

RESULTS: Here we show the presence of the multi-resistance gene cfr in seven CC398 isolates obtained from humans and in one CC398 isolate from a pig-farm dust sample. Cfr induces resistance against five antibiotic classes, which is true for all but two isolates. The isolates are genetically unrelated, and in seven of the isolates cfr are located on distinct plasmids. The fexA gene is found in 3.9% surveillance isolates and in 7.5% of the samples from livestock. There is considerable sequence variation of fexA and geographic origin of the fexA alleles.

CONCLUSIONS: The rare cfr and fexA resistance genes are found in MRSA from humans and animals in the Netherlands, but there is no evidence for spread of resistant strains or resistance plasmids. The proportion of cfr-positive MRSA is low, but its presence is worrying and should be closely monitored.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135
Number of pages13
JournalCommunications medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2022

Cite this