Judit Sahin-Tóth DVM1, Eszter Kovács2, Orsolya Dobay PhD3
1,2,3 Semmelweis University Institute of Medical Microbiology, Budapest
Introduction: Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen which can cause life threatening infections and is often multiresistant. In addition to diseased or asymptomatic persons, the source of infection can be the non-living environment and several animal species, as well. According to the literature, S. aureus can spread from pets to owners and vica versa.
Aims: Our aim was to conduct a survey in Budapest to establish staphylococcal carriage among owners and their pets. As part of this study we wanted to further explore whether companion animals carry S. aureus and hence pose any risks to their owners.
Method: Cotton swab samples were taken from skin and nose of owners, pets and veterinary staff at different animal hospitals. 103 humans and 82 animals were screened. After selective culturing, the species identification and detection of resistance or virulence genes were done by PCR. Antibiotic susceptibility was tested according the EUCAST guidelines. PFGE was used to determine clonality of isolates deriving from owners and their pets.
Results: In total, 52 S. aureus (39 from humans 13 from pets) were found. Only one isolate proved to be methicillin resistant (MRSA), otherwise they were mainly sensitive to antibiotics; higher resistance rates were observed to macrolides and beta-lactams. Toxic shock syndrome toxin gene was found in a surprisingly high proportion. PFGE could reveal genetic identity between human and animal isolates in six cases.
Conclusion: Carriage rates for MSSA and MRSA found in this study were similar to those published in the literature. We could verify the direct transmission of S. aureus between humans and their pets. The toxin producing strains can lead to even more severe infections. Our findings seem to strengthen the theory that pets can serve as reservoirs for human S. aureus infections.
Doctoral School: Pathological Sciences
Program: Study of the Immunbiological Effects of Microorganisms and of their Components at Molecular and Cellular Level and in the Microorganisms
Supervisor: Orsolya Dobay
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