New human pathogens can emerge from the livestock-human interface and spread into human populations through many pathways including livestock products. Occupational contact with livestock is a risk factor for exposure to those pathogens and may cause further spreading of those pathogens in the community. The current study used whole genome sequencing to explore nasal Staphylococcus aureus obtained from hog slaughterhouse workers and their community members, all of whom resided in a livestock-dense region in rural North Carolina. Sequence data were analyzed for lineage distribution, pathogenicity-related genomic features, and mobile genetic elements. We observed evidence of nasal S. aureus differences between hog workers and non-workers. Nasal S. aureus from hog workers showed a greater lineage diversity than nasal S. aureus from community residents. Hog worker isolates were less likely to carry the φSa3 prophage and human-specific immune evasion cluster genes than community resident isolates (φSa3 prophage: 54.5% vs. 91.7%, Benjamini-Hochberg (BH) corrected p = 0.035; immune evasion cluster genes: 66.7% vs. 100%, BH p = 0.021). Hog worker isolates had a lower prevalence and diversity of enterotoxins than community resident isolates, particularly lacking the enterotoxin gene cluster (39.4% vs. 70.8%, BH p = 0.125). Moreover, hog worker isolates harbored more diverse antibiotic resistance genes, with a higher prevalence of carriage of multiple resistance genes, than community resident isolates (75.8% vs. 29.2%, BH p = 0.021). Phylogenetic analysis of all ST5 isolates, the most abundant lineage in the collection, further supported separation of isolates from hog workers and non-workers. Together, our observations suggest impact of occupational contact with livestock on nasal S. aureus colonization and highlight the need for further research on the complex epidemiology of S. aureus at the livestock-human interface.
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