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Klebsiella pneumoniae of suspected human origin from free-living common seals on the east coast of England
  1. James Paul Duff, BSc, MVB, MSc, MRCVS1,
  2. C. A. Bidewell, BVetMed MSc MRCVS2,
  3. S. M. Williamson, BVetMed PhD MRCVS2,
  4. C. J. Teale, MA Vet MB MSc MRCVS3,
  5. M. F. Stidworthy, MA Vet MB PhD FRCPath MRCVS4,
  6. S. Bexton, BVMS CertZooMed MRCVS5,
  7. M. AbuOun, BSc, MSc, PhD6,
  8. L. Randall, C. Biol, MIBiol, MSc, PhD6 and
  9. J. P. Rogers, BSc7
  1. 1APHA Penrith Veterinary Investigation Centre, Penrith, Cumbria CA11 9RR
  2. 2APHA Bury St Edmunds Veterinary Investigation Centre, Rougham Hill, Bury St Edmunds IP33 2RX, UK
  3. 3APHA Shrewsbury Veterinary Investigation Centre, Kendal Road, Harlescott, Shrewsbury SY1 4HD, UK
  4. 4International Zoo Veterinary Group, Station House, Parkwood Street, Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD21 4NQ, UK
  5. 5RSPCA Norfolk Wildlife Hospital, Station Road, East Winch, Kings Lynn, Norfolk PE32 1NR, UK
  6. 6Department of Bacteriology, APHA, Weybridge, KT15 3NB, UK
  7. 7APHA Bury St Edmunds Veterinary Investigation Centre, Rougham Hill, Bury St, Edmunds IP33 2RX, UK

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KLEBSIELLA pneumoniae subspecies pneumoniae (Kpp) was isolated from three, free-living, juvenile common seals (Phoca vitulina) found, independently, in ill-health or abandoned ashore on the east coast of England. The seals were hospitalised at two rehabilitation centres. Postmortem examinations revealed lesions of neck abscessation, pleurisy and pyothorax in one seal, and omphalitis and peritonitis in a second seal. The third seal had a ruptured optic globe but survived (and was eventually released). Kpp was recovered from lesion swabs by culture on blood agar under standard aerobic conditions and further characterisation of isolates was by multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Sequence type (ST)398 was identified in one seal and ST11 in two seals. All three Kpp isolates showed multiple antibiotic resistance in broth microdilution susceptibility tests. ST11 represents an epidemic clone of Kpp which is found worldwide in man, often with extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL) or, more recently, carbapenemase resistance. The resistance patterns and molecular typing of the Kpp isolates suggest that microbial marine pollution of human origin, possibly from human sewage, may have been the source of these infections in juvenile seals.

Klebsiella species are members of the family Enterobacteriaceae and are ubiquitous in the environment, occurring in surface water, sewage and soil, as well as being found as commensals of the nasopharynx and intestine of human beings and other animals (Podschun and Ullmann 1998). Klebsiella pneumoniae is a common human nosocomial pathogen causing urinary, respiratory or generalised infections. The gastrointestinal tract of patients is considered one of the main reservoirs of the organism in cases of human infection (Podschun and Ullmann 1998). Klebsiella pneumoniae in human healthcare settings has developed increasing resistance to …

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