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People and companion animals share MRSA strains

E. M. Harrison, L. A. Weinert, M. T. G. Holden, J. J. Welch, K. Wilson

ANTIMICROBIAL resistance threatens the health and wellbeing of both people and animals and the spread of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), in particular, has raised concerns. The majority of MRSA infections are caused by the ST239, ST22 and ST8 clones, with ST22 implicated in most hospital-acquired MRSA infections in people in the UK. The aim of this study was to sequence ST22 MRSA isolates from companion animals and compare them to samples isolated from people to better understand the relationship between strains affecting animals and people.

A total of 46 ST22 isolates taken from infected companion animals (four cats and 42 dogs) were analysed. The samples were obtained from two large veterinary hospitals in England – the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), Hertfordshire (24 samples) and the Animal Health Trust, Suffolk (five samples) – as well as smaller veterinary practices throughout the UK. These were compared to ST22 isolates taken from people.

Analysis revealed that all of the animal isolates belonged to the epidemic MRSA 15 pandemic group and that they were similar to human isolates of UK-specific genetic groups. In all cases, the human isolates were basal to the …

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