Background: Infection with methicillin-resistant staphylococci (MRS) can be life-threatening in humans and its presence in animals is a cause for public health concern. The aim of this study was to measure the prevalence of MRS in captive and free-ranging wallabies over a 16-month period in South Australia, Australia. Materials and methods: Eighty-nine purified staphylococcal isolates recovered from 98 captive and freeranging wallabies’ anterior nasal swabs were used in this study. All isolates were tested for the presence of the mecA, mecA1, and mecC genes. Multiplex PCR-directed SCCmec-typing, ccrB-typing, and determination of the minimal inhibitory concentration of oxacillin were performed on mec-positive isolates. Results and discussion: In total, 11 non-Staphylococcus aureus MRS were isolated from 7 out of 98 animals, corresponding to a 7.1% carriage rate. The SCCmec types I, III, and V were identified by multiplex PCR and sequencing of the ccrB gene. This is the first report of MRS carriage in both captive and free-ranging wallabies in Australia. These data demonstrate a low prevalence of MRS and no association between wallaby captivity status and MRS carriage could be assigned. These animals may act as a reservoir for the exchange of genetic elements between staphylococci. Furthermore, the mecA genes of animal isolates were identical to that found in human MRS strains and thus the possibility of zoonotic transfer must be considered.
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