17 March 2008

More on pets and staph

I am at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases, a biannual meeting sponsored by the CDC that is a disease geek's dream of heaven. The days are extremely packed — about 2,000 attendees and presentations every 15 minutes for most of three days — so blogging may be a little light. Lots of MRSA news here though, so there will be a lot to catch up on.

Here's one example: Engeline Van Duijkeren of Utrecht University reported this afternoon on an outbreak of Staphylococcus intermedius, a staph species that colonizes and causes disease in dogs and cats but is rarely found in humans. Between late 2006 and early 2007, the lab at Utrecht received samples for analysis from six animals, all of which had surgery at the same veterinary hospital: five dogs with orthopedic surgery, one cat with abdominal surgery. The samples yielded identical strains of S. intermedius that were all methicillin-resistant — and resistant to a host of other drugs as well, from 3d and 4th generation cephalosporins to clindamycin to tetracycline to Bactrim.

The lab group found the case cluster and the resistance pattern so striking that they looked around for a common source, including among the clinic's veterinary personnel. They swabbed the surgeon, six technicians, two healthy dogs who lived in the clinic, and the local environment. They found the identical strain in the noses of the surgeon, three of the technicians, and one of the house dogs. Conclusion, van Duijkeren said: The humans (who were colonized, not sick) picked up the strain and redistributed it to the animals under their care. It's the first recorded transmission of MRSI between humans and animals.

(Worth noting: A questioner from the University of Pennsylvania, which has done a lot of work on staph in animals, rose during the Q/A to suggest that the hospital was experiencing a clonal cluster of cases that arose independently, rather than a chain of transmission. Oooh, more fodder.)

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