Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Carried By Wild Song Birds

Tweet? (and not the internet kind). At the recent ASM meeting, I saw a poster presented by Mark Schroeder of Ohio Wesleyan University about the prevalence of methicillin-resistant staphylococci in wild song birds (the staphylococci include several potential pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and S. epidermis).

Based on my notes (Note to wee lil' scientists: If you're presenting a poster, always bring lots of page sized copies. Always.), roughly ten percent of birds had staphylococci (I think they were isolated from the plumage, but I can't be certain).

Among the mannitol-positive staphylococci (which include S. aureus), 58% were methicillin resistant. Zoiks. Of the S. aureus, ~30% were methicillin resistant (no mention which clone of S. aureus they were). Among the mannitol-negative staphylococci (which include S. epidermis), 31% were methicillin resistant.

When you consider how many songbirds there are in the U.S., it's safe to say that they constitute a major reservoir of methicillin resistant staphylococci (as well as methicillin resistance genes). It will be interesting to see what the genetics of these organisms will be.

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By the time this one makes it through the science news cycle we'll have op-eds calling for our own Great Sparrow Campaign.