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Title: Epidemiological and genetic investigations of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in companion animals
Author: Loeffler, Anette
ISNI:       0000 0004 2722 0337
Awarding Body: Royal Veterinary College (University of London)
Current Institution: Royal Veterinary College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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The hypotheses challenged in this project were (1) people are the source for meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in pets, (2) risk factors for MRSA infection and carriage mirror those described in humans, (3) S. aureus continues to evolve on animals, (4) MRSA is carried by a substantial number of companion animals and (5) pets can be a reservoir for MRSA. Risk factors for MRSA pet infection were determined in a UK-wide case-control study enrolling dogs and cats with S. aureus infection (138 MRSA; 122 MSSA), their veterinary staff and owners. MRSA were typed and 12 paired human-animal isolates were compared by whole genome microarrays. MRSA carriage was examined in selected populations of dogs, cats and horses (n=1692) in the Greater London area and dog-to-dog transmission of MRSA was examined during an outbreak in a rescue kennel. Key findings were (a) an occupational risk for MRSA carriage in UK first opinion veterinary staff (9%), (b) antimicrobial therapy, surgery and admission to veterinary hospitals as major risk factors for pet MRSA infection; (c) human healthcareassociated lineages predominated amongst animals but (d) host-specific variation occurred within the same lineage, (e) MRSA carriage in the studied animal populations was low «1.5%), (f) "classical" risk factors were not involved in animal carriage but co-carriage of other staphylococci was protective against MRSA, (g) decolonisation occurred naturally and (h) dog-to-dog transmission was not observed. MRSA ST398 was identified from one horse, the first isolation from an animal in the UK. These findings support the concept that pets acquire MRSA primarily from people but are unlikely natural hosts for healthcare-associated MRSA. Therefore, rigorous personal and environmental hygiene combined with conscientious use of antimicrobial agents should be highly effective in veterinary clinics. Bacterial interference should be further investigated as a preventative measure. Vigilance is warranted as new strains may evolve on and spread between companion animals.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Pets – Diseases, Bacterial Infections – microbiology, Epidemiology, Zoonoses