Dr. Tara Smith
Participation year
Project title

Prevalence of Staphylococcus aureus and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Cedar County, Iowa


Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is one of the most prevalent human pathogens and may cause up to one third of bacterial disease. As S. aureus is one of the top infectious diseases with high mortality in the Unites States, recent studies have focused on how this versatile pathogen adapts and infects its human host. We performed a study of the prevalence of methicillin- susceptible S. aureus (MMSA) and methicillin- resistant S. aureus (MSRA), among farmers and voters in Cedar County, Iowa. While we have observed a high prevalence of S. aureus in swine farmers in Iowa, the prevalence in rural Iowans in unknown. Nasal and throat swabs were taken from 50 participants and samples were sent to the Emerging Infectious Diseases Lab at the University of Iowa. Out of 50 adults, 10 were MSSA positive (20%) and 0 were MRSA positive (0%). All samples were negative for the gene encoding Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (pvl). Sequencing of the spa gene is ongoing. Further antibiotic susceptibility testing and molecular characterization of these isolates is underway. Additional studies are needed to determine what populations have a higher risk of infection and how to prevent transmission of this pathogen in order to improve human health.

Vivian  Ortiz Baez
UPR @ Ponce