Typing early Australian healthcare-associated MRSA: confirmation of major clones and emergence of ST1-MRSA-IV and novel ST2249-MRSA-III
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Aims: To investigate the evolutionary origins of Australian healthcare-associated (HCA) methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains from a panel of historical isolates typed using current genotyping techniques. Methods: Nineteen MRSA isolates from 1965 to 1981 were examined and antibiotic susceptibility profiles determined. Genetic characterisation included real-time (RT) polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays to identify single nucleotide polymorhpism (SNP) clonal complexes (SNP CC) and sequence type (SNP ST), multi locus sequence typing (MLST) and staphylococcal chromosomal cassette mec typing. Results: All SNP CC30 isolates belonged to a novel sequence type, ST2249. All SNP CC239 isolates were confirmed as ST239-MRSA-III, except for a new single locus variant of ST239, ST2275. A further new type, ST2276, was identified. Conclusions: The earliest MRSA examined from 1965 was confirmed as ST250-MRSA-I, consistent with archaic European types. Identification of ST1-MRSA-IV in 1981 is the earliest appearance of this clinically important lineage which manifested in Australia and the United States in the 1990s. A previously unknown multi-resistant clone, ST2249-MRSA-III, was identified from 1973. Gentamicin resistance first appeared in this novel strain from 1976 and not ST239 as previously suspected. Thus, ST2249 was present in the earliest phase of the HCA MRSA epidemic in eastern Australia and was perhaps related to the emergence of the globally epidemic strain ST239.