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Antibiogram and molecular characterization of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus recovered from treated wastewater effluent and receiving surface water in Durban, South Africa

  • Ramessar, Kerisha1
  • Olaniran, Ademola O.1
  • 1 University of KwaZulu-Natal (Westville Campus), Discipline of Microbiology, School of Life Sciences, College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Durban, Republic of South Africa , Durban (South Africa)
Published Article
World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Aug 28, 2019
DOI: 10.1007/s11274-019-2715-9
Springer Nature


Municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) may serve as a reservoir for potentially pathogenic and antibiotic resistant bacteria. The discharge of improperly treated wastewater effluent may lead to the spread of these bacteria, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) which is responsible for causing pneumonia, septicaemia and skin and soft tissue infections, into the receiving surface waters. This study aimed to determine the antibiogram and virulence gene profiles of MRSA isolates recovered from treated wastewater effluent and receiving surface waters. Genetic fingerprinting of the isolates was also carried out to determine the phylogenetic relationship between the isolates and selected antibiogram profiles. Eighty MRSA isolates were obtained from treated effluent and receiving rivers of two WWTPs in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Antibiotic resistance was observed towards lincomycin (100%), oxacillin (98.75%), cefoxitin and penicillin (97.50%), and ampicillin (96.25%). In addition, 72.50%, 66.25%, 52.50%, 40% and 33.75% of isolates showed resistance against cefozolin, azithromycin, amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, erythromycin and vancomycin, respectively. Antibiotic resistance genes detected in the isolates tested in this study: aac(6′)/aph(2″) (56.25%), ermC (62.50%), msrA (22.50%), and blaZ and tetK (70%). The frequency of virulence genes: hla and sea was 57.50%, hld was 1.25%, while lukS P/V was 0%. Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis analysis generated 13 pulsotypes (designated A–M) showing a correlation to their respective antibiograms. Findings from this study showed the presence of potentially pathogenic, multi-drug resistant MRSA in the treated effluent and receiving surface waters. This may have detrimental effects on the health of individuals who come into contact with these water resources.

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