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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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AWF Student Grant open for submissions

News Story 1
 Applications are open for the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Student Grant Scheme for innovative research projects designed to impact animal welfare.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students of veterinary science, veterinary nursing, agriculture studies and animal welfare are invited to submit their proposals to undertake research projects next year.

Grants are decided based on the project’s innovation, relevance to topical animal welfare issues and ability to contribute towards raising animal welfare standards. For more information visit animalwelfarefoundation.org.uk.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
SPANA film highlights plight of working animals overseas

Animal welfare charity SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has teamed up with Brian Blessed and other famous voices to highlight the plight of working animals overseas.

In a new animated film, the celebrities raise awareness by showing the solidarity of the UK's own working animals on strike. A sniffer dog (Brian Blessed), police horse (Peter Egan) and sheepdog (Deborah Meaden) are shown ignoring their duties and protesting in solidarity with animals in developing countries.

SPANA chef executive Geoffrey Dennis said: "We are so grateful to Deborah, Peter and Brian for lending their voices to our new film, and for speaking up for millions of working animals overseas. SPANA believes that a life of work should not mean a life of suffering, and it is only thanks to people’s generosity and support that we can continue our vital work improving the lives of these animals."