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Keywords:

  • Veterinarians;
  • pet animals;
  • antibiotic resistance;
  • zoonoses;
  • occupational health

Summary

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP) is increasingly reported in small animals and cases of human infections have already been described despite its recent emergence in veterinary practice. We investigated the prevalence of MRSP and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) among small animal dermatologists attending a national veterinary conference in Italy. Nasal swabs were obtained from 128 veterinarians, seven of which harboured MRSP (n = 5; 3.9%) or MRSA (n = 2; 1.6%). A follow-up study of two carriers revealed that MRSP persisted for at least 1 month in the nasal cavity. Methicillin-susceptible S. aureus (MSSA) was isolated from 32 (25%) conference participants, whereas methicillin-susceptible S. pseudintermedius (MSSP) was not detected, suggesting that MRSP may have a particular ability to colonize humans compared to MSSP. All isolates were characterized by spa typing. Methicillin-resistant isolates were further typed by antimicrobial susceptibility testing, SCCmec and multi-locus sequence typing. Two lineages previously associated with pets were identified among the five MRSP isolates; the European epidemic clone ST71-SCCmec II-III and ST106-SCCmec IV. One of the two MRSA isolates displayed a genotype (ST22- SCCmecIV) frequently reported in dogs and cats. MRSP isolates were resistant to more antimicrobial agents compared with MRSA isolates and displayed the typical multidrug resistance patterns of MRSP in pets. The 32 MSSA isolates belonged to 20 spa types and the most frequent types (t12, t15 and t166) were associated with common S. aureus lineages in humans (CC30 and CC45). Although low, the 3.9% MRSP carriage rate found among small animal dermatologists was surprising in consideration of the rare occurrence of S. pseudintermedius in humans, the lack of MSSP detection and the recent appearance of MRSP in Europe. As cases of human MRSP infection have been linked with pets, veterinarians should be aware of this zoonotic risk and proper preventative measures should be taken to avoid MRSP transmission from animal patients.