31 Oct ‘Superbug’ Breaches Australia’s Final Drug Defense
The first evidence of a superbug in a domestic cat that could infect humans and livestock has been discovered in Australia.
The Salmonella strain is resistant to carbapenems, a drug used as the last line of defence in Australian hospitals. Experts believe this resistance may pose a serious threat to public health.
Murdoch University researcher Dr Sam Abraham has led a study to identify the full risk of the Salmonella bug, along with a strong team of medical and veterinary researchers from Concord Hospital, University of Sydney, Concord Vets and University of Adelaide.
“This is the first time that a Salmonella strain with resistance to most antimicrobial drugs has been reported in any Australian domestic animal and it is a significant concern to public health,” Dr Abraham said.
“The identification and containment of the bacteria has been an example of Australia’s One Health capabilities, where animal and human health specialists work together to prevent the spread of infection.”
The bug was discovered serendipitously after a cat admitted to Concord Veterinary Clinic in New South Wales with an upper respiratory infection subsequently developed a gut infection during its treatment.
Clinic veterinarian Dr David Hughes fortunately took the extra precaution of sending the sample to Associate Professor Thomas Gottlieb’s research team at Concord Hospital.
“Initial analysis of the Salmonella gave results that had never before been seen for this bacterium in Australia.” Prof Thomas Gottlieb said.
“We found that the cat been infected with a Salmonella bacteria carrying the highly resistant IMP-4 gene.”
Dr Richard Malik from University of Sydney and Dr Elaine Cheong from Concord Hospital were called in to oversee the containment of the outbreak.
Another eight cats at the veterinary facility were tested, and three animals were also found to be carrying the bacteria.