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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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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.