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Commensal Staphylococci Including Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus from Dogs and Cats in Remote New South Wales, Australia

Abstract

Staphylococci are important opportunistic pathogens in human and veterinary medicine in addition to being part of the normal flora of the skin and mucous membranes of mammals and birds. The rise of antimicrobial resistance amongst staphylococci warrants closer investigation of the diversity of skin commensal organisms—including coagulase-negative staphylococci (CoNS)—due to their potential as a source of resistance genes. This study is aimed at characterising the commensal staphylococci—including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus species (spp.)—from mucocutaneous sites of dogs and cats from remote New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Pet dogs and cats were recruited from participants in a community companion animal health programme in six communities in western NSW. Three swabs were collected from each animal (anterior nares, oropharynx, and perineum) and from skin lesions or wounds if present and cultured on selective media for Staphylococcus spp. In total, 383 pets (303 dogs, 80 cats) were enrolled. Staphylococcus spp. were isolated from 67.3% of dogs and 73.8% of cats (494 isolates). The diversity of CoNS was high (20 species) whilst only three coagulase-positive spp. were isolated (S. pseudintermedius, S. aureus, S. intermedius). The prevalence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) carriage in dogs was high (2.6%) relative to other studies but was only a small proportion of overall commensal staphylococci. No cats carried MRSA and no MRSP was isolated from either species. Dogs were significantly more likely to carry coagulase-positive staphylococci than cats (P < 0.001). Amongst dogs, males and those with skin lesions were more likely to carry S. pseudintermedius. This study highlights important differences in the diversity and patterns of carriage of commensal staphylococci between dogs and cats in remote NSW, Australia.

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Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to all communities and pet owners who participated in this study. Special thanks to Dr. Ann-Margret Withers and veterinary staff involved in community companion animal health programs for their assistance and support. We also thank Charlotte Webster and the team at the Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at Concord Hospital (NSW, Australia) for their assistance with MALDI-TOF.

Author information

Correspondence to Jacqueline M. Norris.

Ethics declarations

All dogs and cats were owned, and their participation was with written owner consent. Ethics approval was granted by the Animal Ethics Committee of the University of Sydney (2016/1044).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Ma, G.C., Worthing, K.A., Ward, M.P. et al. Commensal Staphylococci Including Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus from Dogs and Cats in Remote New South Wales, Australia. Microb Ecol 79, 164–174 (2020) doi:10.1007/s00248-019-01382-y

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Keywords

  • Staphylococcus
  • Dog
  • Cat
  • MRSA
  • Commensal