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Carriers

8 Jul | By Biophotonics.World
Carriers
Bacteria in a Petri dish
Image source: Leibniz IPHT
By: Sven Döring


Ralf Ericht and his team are investigating urban rats as a source of multidrug-resistant bacteria

Multidrug-resistant bacteria are a global threat. Even now, certain antibiotics are no longer effective against many bacteria. Rats could accelerate the spread of such multidrug-resistant pathogens in cities. This is the conclusion reached by a German-Austrian research team after examining rat populations in Vienna. Ralf Ehricht and Stefan Monecke from Leibniz IPHT analysed the rats' genes and showed thatthe animals carry high-risk pathogens that are resistant to most antibiotics. 


Every seventh rat caughtin the city center of Viennabetween 2016 and 2017carried multidrug-resistant enterobacteria, whosemost important representatives are also knownas coliform bacteria. This corresponds to a proportion of 14.5 percent andis comparable to the frequency of previous studies in Berlin, for example. In more than half – almost 60 percent – of the rats in Vienna, the researchers identified dangerous, multidrug-resistant staphylococci. "We found bacteria that were already resistant to up to four classes of antibiotics," reports Ralf Ehricht, whose team worked on the study with researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna, the Austrian Agency for Food Security, and Freie Universität Berlin. "These highly resistant pathogens pose a great danger because they an transfer their resistance genes to other bacterial species. 

The Jena scientists examined samples from the intestinal tract and nasopharynx of 62 animals. Among other things, they used a molecular resistance test developed at the InfectoGnostics Research Campus. They identified antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 39 rats (62.9 percent), 12 of these animals showed multivariate resistant variants of the pathogens. 

Although the interaction between multidrug-resistant bacteria in rats and the risk to human health has not yet been clarified, the main authors of Vetmeduni Vienna consider the frequency of multidrug-resistant bacteria to be of concern. "For example, one of the rats we examined was caught in a green area that homeless people use as a sleeping place in summer," the veterinarians report. "This particular situation increases the risk of transmission of the resistant bacteria." In principle, however, a number of other scenarios could also be considered for a transfer. The control of rats and other rodents, such as mice, is therefore still very important for public health in cities. 

In order to investigate how multidrug-resistant bacteria spread and develop, migratory rats (Rattus norvegicus) are of particular interest, explains Ralf Ehricht. "They adaptextremely well, they reprouman waste and colonisethe sewage system. As aresult, they often come into contact with human faeces and can take up and spread multidrug-resistant bacteria. However, little is known about the role of rats inthe epidemiology of multidrug-resistant bacteria. The researchers assume that increasing urbanisation might in future lead to an increase in the spread of pathogens. More than half of the world's population currently lives in cities, and this proportion will have risen to 60 % by 2030. High population density, closer contact with urban wildlife and a warmer urban microclimate favour the development of zoonoses – diseases that are transmitted from wild animals to humans. 


Related journal article: Desvars-Larrive, Amélie et al., Urban brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) as possible source of multidrug- resistant Enterobacteriaceae and meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus spp., Eurosurveillance, 24, 1900149 (2019), https://doi.org/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2019.24.32.1900149 







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