One Health selection and transmission of AMR (UK study)
This research project (OH-STAR) focuses on the environmental and management factors that influence acquisition and selection of AMR in animals in the South West UK, and looks at the influence of AMR in animals on AMR in humans.
What is the problem?
Antibacterial drug resistance (ABR) is estimated to cause 5000 deaths per year in the UK. The economic cost of longer stays in hospital more time off work, and a greater requirement of social care resulting from slower cure is extremely large. However, ABR also has implications for domestic animals. For food producing animals, the inability to treat infections because of ABR affects food security. For food producing and companion animals there is a perceived threat that ABR can transfer to humans and ultimately make the threat of ABR in humans much worse. We want to understand how ABR is selected in food producing and companion animals – what are the risk factors – and whether there is any evidence of transmission between animals and humans in a defined geographical region (50 x 50 km).
What research is being carried out?
This project has involved surveys of ABR on 54 dairy farmers in the South West of England. Samples have been collected from young animals as they get older, and from the adult population monthly for 2 years. Management practice and antimicrobial usage data have also been collected. All samples have been processed to determine the identify the levels and types of ABR found in Escherichia coli, a key human and animal pathogen, which is carried in the intestines of all mammals. We have subsequently related the presence of ABR with the management practice risks and the levels of antimicrobial usage on farms.
We recruited 250 puppies at 12-16 weeks of age and 600 adult dogs from within the study region. We have collected faecal samples from these dogs and used owner surveys to identify behavioral and “management” risk factors for carriage of ABR E. coli of different types in these dogs.
We are also finishing off a survey of ABR E. coli within Bristol Zoological Gardens, and on smallholder farms in the South West of England.
We are monitoring the levels of ABR in E. coli from human urinary tract and bloodstream infections across the South West over >5 years and relating trends in ABR with the rates of prescription of antibiotics in primary care. We are characterizing the types of ABR E. coli found in these urine samples and relating these bacteria with the bacteria identified in dogs and on farms, with a view to testing whether there is evidence of transmission from one group to the other.
Outcome and next steps
We have identified that the way samples are collected on farms affects the levels of ABR E. coli observed. The place and age of animals sampled, the way samples are collected, and the temperature at the time of sample collection all make a difference (Schubert et al, 2021 Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 87:e01468-20; Turner et al, 2022 Journal of Applied Microbiology, 132:2633-2641). This will inform appropriate farm ABR survey practices for research and “benchmarking”. We have identified that antimicrobial usage on dairy farms has only a weak influence on the prevalence of ABR E. coli, but there are specific antimicrobial use “drivers”, particularly the use of 4th generation dry cow therapy tubes, amoxicillin-clavulanate and fluoroquinolones, which select different types of ABR E. coli (Schubert et al, 2021 Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 87:e01468-20; Alzayn et al, 2020 Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 75:2471-2479; Mounsey et al, 2021 Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 76:3144-3150). We have shown that feeding raw meat to dogs is a very strong risk factor for them excreting ABR E. coli, and that walking dogs close to cattle can result in sharing ABR bacteria between cattle and dogs (Mounsey et al, 2022 One Health, 14:100370; Sealey et al, 2022 Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, In Press). However, there is very little evidence that ABR E. coli found in animals in our study region are an immediate cause of ABR infections in humans (Alzayn et al, 2020 Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 75:2471-2479; Mounsey et al, 2021 Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 76:3144-3150; Findlay et al, 2021 Applied and Environmental Microbiology 87:e01842-20; Sealey et al, 2022 Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, In Press). Indeed we have shown that antimicrobial usage in humans has a large impact on the levels of ABR E. coli urinary tract infections in humans (Hammod et al 2020 PLoS One 15:e0232903).
We are currently following up on the impacts of antimicrobial usage changes in farming and in human medicine, and testing our predictions about how these changes will effect the ecology of ABR E. coli in our region.
- Prof Matthew Avison (School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine)
- Prof Kristen Reyher (Bristol Veterinary School)
- Prof David Barrett (Bristol Veterinary School)
- Prof Alastair Hay (Bristol Medical School)
- Prof Alasdair MacGowan (North Bristol NHS Trust)
- Dr Philip Williams (Bristol Royal Infirmary)
- Dr Hannah Schubert (Bristol Veterinary School)
- Dr Ginny Gould (Bristol Veterinary School)
- Dr Ashley Hammond (Bristol Medical School)
- Dr Oliver Mounsey (School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine)
- Jordan Sealey (School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
- Beatriz Llamazares (School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
- Claire Scott (Bristol Veterinary School)
- The "Tackling AMR - A Cross Council Initiative" NERC-led Theme 3: "Understanding the Real World Interactions" call funded by NERC, BBSRC and MRC.
- The Medical Research Foundation National PhD Training Programme in AMR Research.
- The Medical Research Council.
Prof Matthew Avison
Tel: +44 (0)117 331 2063