Played a bit role along with the SGH Department of Microbiology blogger in an Environmental Health Institute (EHI) study looking at Staphylococcus aureus isolates obtained from retail food and food handlers’ gloves in Singapore over the period 2011 to 2014. The work is now published in the open access journal Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control.
Interestingly, 5 of 227 (2.2%) such isolates were methicillin-resistant (MRSA). Three ST80-MRSA (the ST represents multilocus sequence type) isolates were obtained from food items used in making Indian rojak (sliced onion, prawn fritter and fried egg) while 2 ST6-MRSA isolates were cultured from swabs of food handlers’ gloves.
These MRSA are from human clonal lineages. ST80-MRSA, for example, is a common clone of community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA) that had previously been dubbed the European CA-MRSA clone. Although these particular isolates differed by testing negative for the Panton-Valentine leukocidin gene. ST6-MRSA had also previously been reported causing human infections in Australia and the Middle-East. These are different from the major MRSA clones reported from local hospitals.
Not really sure there are any serious implications here, except that retail food items probably play a very minor role in the transmission of S. aureus, including MRSA, which has been described in various parts of the world.. Nonetheless, it was nice to be involved in the EHI study.