The strong antibiotic, Linezolid, is used to treat challenging human infections including those caused by the superbug MRSA. But it can’t be given to animals. Three cats and a dog have been found to be carrying bacteria that is resistant to Linezolid.
The animals had all been taken to the same small animal hospital from different households.
The discovery implies that resistance to one of a vanishingly small number of last resort antibiotics can spread between different bacterial populations in animals and humans.
Linezolid-resistant Enterococcus faecalis bugs were isolated from three wound swabs from two cats and the dog
Dr Katie Hopkins from Public Health England said: “This is concerning as transmission of this organism to owners carries the potential for spread to other bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus.
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“This may lead to difficult-to-treat infections.
“In order to minimise transmission of resistant bacteria between companion animals and people, veterinary surgeries need to ensure adequate cleaning takes place and pet owners should wash their hands after handling pets.”
The gene that enables bacterial resistance to linezolid is known as optrA.
Dr Hopkins said it was thought to be the first time optrA-positive enterococci had been identified in pets in the UK.
Besides all four isolates testing positive for optrA, there were indications of animal-to-animal transmission.
However, thanks to prompt cleaning and decontamination, there was no evidence of any human picking up an infection from the pets, said Dr Hopkins.
She 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.
“Therefore a joint approach to monitoring emergence and dissemination of resistance mechanisms of public health importance is needed.”
Source:: Daily times