1Department of Microbiology, College of Science, Qom Branch, Islamic Azad University, Qom, Iran
2Department of Microbiology, College of Science, Zanjan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Zanjan, Iran
Milk is considered a nutritious food because it contains several important nutrients including proteins and vitamins. Conversely, it can be a vehicle for several pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. This study aimed to analyze the frequency of genes encoding the nine Staphylococcal enterotoxins (SEs) and enterotoxin gene profiles in S. aureus isolates derived from raw bovine milk. A total of 52 S. aureus isolates were obtained from 246 milk samples of 246 dairy cows from eight different farms in Qom, Iran. On the basis of cultural and biochemical properties as well as by amplification of the 23S rRNA specific to S. aureus, all isolates could be identified as S. aureus. Of the 52 isolates studied, 80.7% were positive for one or more genes encoding the enterotoxins, and 12 different genotypes were identified. The gene encoding for enterotoxin A (Sea) was the most frequent (16 isolates, 30.7%), followed by Seb (14 isolates, 26.9%) and Sed (8 isolates, 15.37%). Among the genes encoding the other enterotoxins, Seg and Seh were the most frequently observed (8 isolates each, 15.38%), followed by Sej (6 isolates, 11.5%) and Sei (1 isolates, 3.84%). With the recent identification of new SEs, the frequency of enterotoxigenic strains has increased, suggesting that the pathogenic potential of Staphylococci may be higher than previously thought. These results of enterotoxin genes positivity of milkderived Staphylococci constitute a potential risk for consumers’ health.