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AMR gene spreads between pets at UK animal hospital
Four isolates tested positive for the gene optrA and there was evidence of transmission between animals.
Practices urged to ensure adequate cleaning to reduce transmission 

A gene that allows bacteria to become resistant to linezolid, a last resort human antibiotic, has been found in four pets at a UK veterinary hospital for the first time.

Scientists from Public Health England (PHE) said the discovery is “concerning” as transmission of this organism to owners carries the risk of spread to other bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus, leading to hard-to-treat infections.

Linezolid is used to treat certain bacterial infections in humans, such as streptococci and MRSA, but it is not licensed for veterinary use in the UK.

Routine testing at the affected veterinary hospital revealed an Enterococcus faecalis isolate from a cat wound swab, which was referred to PHE. Scientists subsequently analysed three other E faecalis isolates from two cats and one dog from the same hospital, but different households.

Four isolates from three wound swabs and a cat rectal swab were found to be resistant to linezolid and gentamicin. All four isolates were also positive for optrA and there was evidence of transmission between animals. PHE said it is the first known report of optrA-positive enterococci isolated from UK pets.

The findings were presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases in Amsterdam (13-16 April).

Lead author Dr Katie Hopkins said veterinary practices must ensure adequate cleaning takes place to minimise transmission of resistant bacteria between companion animals and people. Standard protocols for managing colonised or infected animals should prevent transmission to veterinary staff, she added. Pet owners should also wash their hands after handling pets.

In the above case, further transmission was halted by cleaning and decontamination and there is no evidence that humans became infected.

Dr Hopkins added: “Our findings further the 'One-Health' view that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be shared by animals and humans, although the direction of transfer is often difficult to prove.

“We currently do not know the prevalence of linezolid-resistant enterococci in companion animals and therefore a joint approach to monitoring emergence and dissemination of resistance mechanisms of public health importance is needed.”

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Endangered turtles rescued from smugglers

News Story 1
 A group of endangered turtles have found a new home at London Zoo after being rescued from smugglers.

The four big-headed turtles arrived at the zoo at the end of last year, after smugglers tried to illegally import them to Canada, labelled as toys.

One of the turtles, named Lady Triệu after a Vietnamese warrioress, has moved to a new exhibit in the zoo’s reptile house. She is the only one of her kind in a UK zoo.

Big-headed turtles have such large heads that they cannot pull them back into their shells. To compensate, they have armour plating from head to tail and a very sharp beak to fend off predators. They are ranked number 18 on ZSL’s EDGE of Existence reptile list, which puts threatened species at the forefront of conservation action. Image © ZSL  

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Professor Abdul Rahman announced as keynote speaker for BVA Members’ Day 2019

Celebrated Indian vet and parasitologist Professor Abdul Rahman is set to deliver the keynote speech at BVA Members’ Day 2019.

Professor Rahman will present his insights into the human behaviour challenges of controlling zoonotic disease in his talk: ‘A One Health approach to rabies elimination in Asia’. The talk will outline efforts to gain political support for dog vaccination programmes in China, as well as the need for a collaborative approach between vets, public health, livestock and animal welfare agencies.

The event takes place on Thursday, 19 September at Brangwyn Hall, Swansea. Tickets are free but must be reserved through the BVA website as places are limited.