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A number of real-time PCR assays for direct detection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in clinical specimens are targeting staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) right extremity sequences and the S. aureus chromosomal orfX gene sequences located to the right of the SCCmec integration site. When testing 184 MRSA strains of human and animal origin from geographically distinct locations, we identified several characteristic single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the SCCmec-orfX junction of livestock-associated (LA) MRSA CC398 which serve as suitable strain markers for screening purposes. Within an assay time of 60 minutes and an additional 10 minutes for the melting curve analysis, all MRSA CC398 isolates were correctly identified by their characteristic T value in the commercial LightCycler MRSA Advanced test. Studies to confirm the diagnostic accuracy of the SNP-based strain identification assay with a larger collection of clinical and LA-MRSA strains are ongoing.


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