Trends in the Genetic Background of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Clinical Isolates in a South African Hospital: An Institutional-Based Observational Study

John F. Antiabong, Marleen M. Kock, Tsidiso G. Maphanga, Adeola M. Salawu, Nontombi M. Mbelle, Marthie M. Ehlers*
Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

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© 2017 Antiabong et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa, Tel: +27(0)123192170; E-mails:



This study sought to understand the epidemio-ecological dynamics of MRSA isolates associated with a South African hospital over a period spanning year 2007-8 (a previous study reported in 2009) and year 2010-11 (this study).


One hundred and ninety three isolates were characterised by molecular fingerprinting methods including pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), spa typing, agr-typing, SCCmec-typing, and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). The Vitek-2 automated antibiogram of representative isolates was also performed.


Our data shows that the distribution of MRSA strains among the different clinical conditions was rarely dependent on the genetic backbone or genotype. Compared to the previous survey in 2009, CA-MRSA isolates increased by 31% while HA-MRSA isolates decreased by 17%. An increase in genetic diversity was also revealed including the detection of three pandemic clonal complexes (spa type t012-ST36/CC30, spa type t037-ST239/CC8, spa type t891-ST22/CC22 and spa type t1257-ST612/CC8). Majority of the genotypes were classified as Spa Cluster B-SCCmec I-agr I 19.2%; (37/193) Spa Cluster A-SCCmercury-agr I 14.5%; (28/193)


This study reveals that increased diversity in MRSA genetic background was associated with resistance to frontline antibiotics. Also, an increase was recorded in the CA-MRSA/HA-MRSA ratio within a 5-year period despite the continuous dominance of the HA-MRSA genotype.

Keywords: MRSA, Diversity, Epidemiological genetics, Hospital setting, South Africa.