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August 15, 2021

Study: Drug-resistant bacteria may be more common in veterinary workers

Published on July 28, 2021

Results of a recent study suggest veterinary workers in the Netherlands may carry certain drug-resistant bacteria at double the rate of the public.

The results, published in a poster session for the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, July 9-12, indicate about 10% of veterinary workers tested were colonized with an extended-spectrum beta-lactamase–producing strain of Escherichia coli or Klebsiella pneumoniae, according to an announcement from the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. A copy of the poster abstract, provided by the ECCMID, states that animals are reservoirs for antimicrobial-resistant bacteria that produce ESBLs or plasmid-mediated AmpC beta-lactamases, and the researchers were investigating associations between occupational contact with animals and rates of workers carrying such drug-resistant bacteria.

In the study, researchers from the Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment collected stool samples from 482 veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and veterinary assistants and tested for the presence of ESBL-producing E coli and K pneumoniae, according to the announcement.

The results indicate veterinary workers who traveled to Africa, Asia, or Latin America in the prior six months were four times as likely to carry bacteria with ESBL production genes, and those with stomach or bowel problems in the prior four weeks were twice as likely to be colonized with bacteria expressing ESBL genes, the announcement states. But those factors and prior antimicrobial consumption together were insufficient to explain the higher overall prevalence of ESBL-producing bacteria among veterinary workers, “and it seems highly likely that occupational contact with animals in the animal healthcare setting may result in shedding and transmission of multi-drug resistant pathogens,” the announcement states.