A shared population of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria circulates both in humans and companion animals, according to a study published this week in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology.
"Our study demonstrates that humans and companion animals readily exchange and share MRSA bacteria from the same population," says senior author Mark Holmes, senior lecturer in preventive veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge in England. MRSA naturally lives on the skin and also causes difficult-to-treat infections in humans and animals.
"It also furthers the 'one health' view of infectious diseases that the pathogens infecting both humans and animals are intrinsically linked, and provides evidence that antibiotic usage in animal medicine is shaping the population of a major human pathogen."
Holmes and colleagues sequenced the genomes of 46 MRSA samples from cats and dogs, collected between August 2003 and August 2007 from two large veterinary hospitals and several smaller veterinary practices throughout the United Kingdom.
The samples were found to be similar to those associated with MRSA strains in humans, with most coming from wound infections or skin and soft tissue infections. Additional samples were from the animals' urine; cerebrospinal fluid; nasal wash or discharge; and bloodstream, heart valve or joint infections.
Comparing the samples to a global collection of human MRSA samples sequenced as part of other studies and evaluating the evolution of the bacteria, the investigators found that all animal infections fell in the same family: Epidemic MRSA 15 (EMRSA-15) (sequence type ST22), a common strain of MRSA first detected in the United Kingdom in the 1990s that spread throughout Europe.
The bacteria were interspersed throughout the EMRSA-15 genetic family tree. Nearly all samples were genetically similar to human bacteria, and their place in the family tree showed that the companion animal bacteria most likely originated in humans.
Researchers also observed that samples from the same veterinary hospitals clustered together genetically, suggesting that as in human hospitals, MRSA can be readily transmitted in veterinary hospital settings.
"It's a reminder that constant vigilance and high levels of hygiene are just as important when treating cats and dogs as with humans," Holmes says.
Analysis of the genomes showed very little genetic discrimination between bacteria samples from humans and animals, indicating that the MRSA from cats and dogs had not undergone extensive adaptation to the companion animals, suggesting this type of MRSA has a broad host range. But the animal MRSA were significantly less likely than those from humans to have resistance to the antibiotic erythromycin, used rarely in English veterinary practices. Instead, these MRSA from animals were more likely to contain mutations making them resistant to the antibiotic clindamycin, used widely in veterinary medicine in the United Kingdom.
Holmes says pet owners don't need to worry.
"MRSA infection in cats and dogs is still extremely rare," Holmes says. "There is very little risk of owners getting ill from their pets." In addition, he says, healthy pets are not likely to pick up MRSA from their human companions but if a pet already is ill or its health is severely compromised, MRSA patients should inform their pets' veterinarians.
The study was supported by a Medical Research Council Partnership grant held between the Department of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge, the Moredun Research Institute and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
mBio® is an open access online journal published by the American Society for Microbiology to make microbiology research broadly accessible. The focus of the journal is on rapid publication of cutting-edge research spanning the entire spectrum of microbiology and related fields. It can be found online at http://mbio.asm.org.
The American Society for Microbiology is the largest single life science society, composed of over 39,000 scientists and health professionals. ASM's mission is to advance the microbiological sciences as a vehicle for understanding life processes and to apply and communicate this knowledge for the improvement of health and environmental and economic well-being worldwide.
Jim Sliwa | Eurek Alert!
First time-lapse footage of cell activity during limb regeneration
25.10.2016 | eLife
Phenotype at the push of a button
25.10.2016 | Institut für Pflanzenbiochemie
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.10.2016 | Process Engineering