The origin of a methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolate at a neonatal ward in Sweden-possible horizontal transfer of a staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec between methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus haemolyticus and Staphylococcus aureus.Clin Microbiol Infect. 2008 Nov; 14(11):1048-56.CM
The first methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strain originated when a staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) with the gene mecA was integrated into the chromosome of a susceptible S. aureus cell. The SCCmec elements are common among the coagulase-negative staphylococci, e.g. Staphylococcus haemolyticus, and these are considered to be potential SCCmec donors when new clones of MRSA arise. An outbreak of MRSA occurred at a neonatal intensive-care unit, and the isolates were all of sequence type (ST) 45, as characterized by multilocus sequence typing, but were not typeable with respect to SCCmec types I, II, III or IV. During the same time period, methicillin-resistant S. haemolyticus (MRSH) isolates identified in blood cultures at the same ward were found to be genotypically homogenous by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, and did not carry a type I, II, III or IV SCCmec either. Thus, the hypothesis was raised that an SCCmec of MRSH had been transferred to a methicillin-susceptible S. aureus strain and thereby created a new clone of MRSA that caused the outbreak. This study showed that MRSA from the outbreak carried a ccrC and a class C mec complex that was also found among MRSH isolates. Partial sequencing of the mec complexes showed more than 99% homology, indicative of a common type V SCCmec. This finding may provide evidence for a recent horizontal transfer of an SCCmec from MRSH to an identified potential recipient, an ST45 methicillin-susceptible S. aureus strain, thereby creating a new clone of MRSA that caused the outbreak.