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New insights into superbug link between humans and animals
By looking at the bacteria’s evolutionary history, researchers found that humans are likely to be the original host for the bacteria. (Stock photo)
Gene study could help to tackle antibiotic resistance 

Scientists have shed new light on how disease-causing strains of Staphylococcus aureus can jump between humans and animals.

A team led by the Roslin Institute studied the genetic make-up of more than 800 strains of the bacteria, which were isolated from people and animals.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, could help to improve the use of antibiotics and limit the spread of disease.

Antibiotic strains of S aureus, such as MRSA, are a major cause of hospital acquired infections. It is also a serious burden for the agricultural industry, causing diseases such as mastitis in cows and skeletal infections in broiler chickens.

By looking at the bacteria’s evolutionary history, researchers found that humans are likely to be the original host for the bacteria. The first strains capable of infecting livestock emerged around the same time that animals were domesticated for farming.

The study also revealed that cows were a source of strains that now cause infections in humans worldwide, which underlines the importance of disease surveillance in humans and animals, in order to spot strains that could cause major epidemics.

Furthermore, each time the bacteria jumps species, it acquires new genes that allow it to survive in the new host. In some cases, these genes can also confer resistance to commonly used antibiotics.

Researchers also found that the genes linked to antibiotic resistance are unevenly distributed among strains that infect humans, compared to those that infect animals. They believe this reflects the different practices linked with antibiotic usage in medicine and agriculture.

Professor Ross Fitzgerald, group leader at the Roslin Institute, commented: “Our findings provide a framework to understand how some bacteria can cause disease in both humans and animals and could ultimately reveal novel therapeutic targets.”

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Special imports digital service set to change

News Story 1
 From Monday, 15 July, Special Import Certificate (SIC) applications will only be accepted via the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD's) new special imports digital service.

The original online special import scheme will be decommissioned. The VMD says that the new service is easier to use, more secure and reliable, and meets accessibility legislation.

The VMD is urging veterinary surgeons who have not yet signed up for the new service to do so before 15 July. The new digital service can be accessed here

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News Shorts
RCVS course explains concerns process

A free, online course from the RCVS Academy has been launched, designed to clarify RCVS' concerns procedure.

The content will give veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses a better understanding of the process, and what they can expect if a concern is raised about them. It includes details of common concerns.

The interactive resource has been developed in collaboration with Clare Stringfellow, case manager in the RCVS Professional Conduct Team.

Ms Stringfellow said: "We appreciate that concerns can be very worrying, and we hope that, through this course, we can give vets and nurses a better understanding of the process and how to obtain additional support."

The course can be accessed via the RCVS Academy. Users are encouraged to record their learning for CPD.