Staphylococcus spp. are common members of the normal human flora. However, some Staphylococcus species are recognised as human pathogens due to the production of several virulence factors and enterotoxins that are particularly worrisome in food poisoning. Since many of Staphylococcal food poisoning outbreaks are typically associated with cross-contamination, the detection of S. aureus on food handlers was performed. Hand swabs from 167 food handlers were analysed for the presence of S. aureus. More than 11% of the samples were positive for S. aureus. All S. aureus strains were isolated and analysed for the presence of virulence and enterotoxin genes, namely, sea, seb, sec, sed, seg, sei, tsst-1 and pvl. The same strains were phenotypically characterised in terms of antibiotic susceptibility using the disc diffusion method and antimicrobial agents from 12 different classes. A low prevalence of antibiotic-resistant strains was found, with 55.6% of the strains being sensitive to all of the antimicrobial agents tested. However, a high prevalence of resistance to macrolides was found, with 44.4% of the strains showing resistance to erythromycin. At least one of the virulence or toxin genes was detected in 61.1% of the strains, and seg was the most prevalent toxin gene, being detected in 44.4% of the strains.
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