Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Livestock reservoir as a source of infection with Clostridium difficile and MRSA in humans

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.04.00  Biotechnical sciences  Veterinarian medicine   

Code Science Field
B230  Biomedical sciences  Microbiology, bacteriology, virology, mycology 

Code Science Field
4.03  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Veterinary science 
MRSA, Clostridium difficile, zoonosis, epidemiology
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (18)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  28448  PhD Jana Avberšek  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2015 - 2017  118 
2.  33139  PhD Petra Bandelj  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2014 - 2017  55 
3.  32190  Sara Beigot Glaser  Microbiology and immunology  Technical associate  2015 - 2016 
4.  27973  PhD Urška Dermota  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  102 
5.  30378  PhD Majda Golob  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2014 - 2017  185 
6.  27968  PhD Irena Grmek Košnik  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  364 
7.  30755  PhD Sandra Janežič  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  155 
8.  39657  Maja Kavalič    Technical associate  2016 - 2017 
9.  24296  PhD Darja Kušar  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2014 - 2017  196 
10.  11133  PhD Matjaž Ocepek  Veterinarian medicine  Head  2014 - 2017  468 
11.  24612  PhD Mateja Pate  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2014 - 2017  277 
12.  24598  Tina Pirš  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2014 - 2017  84 
13.  38981  Jan Plut  Veterinarian medicine  Technical associate  2016 - 2017  60 
14.  12278  PhD Maja Rupnik  Microbiology and immunology  Researcher  2014 - 2017  683 
15.  33511  PhD Valerija Tkalec  Microbiology and immunology  Junior researcher  2014 - 2017  53 
16.  37161  Tanja Vrabič  Microbiology and immunology  Technical associate  2016 - 2017 
17.  33447  Urška Zajc  Veterinarian medicine  Technical associate  2015 - 2017  74 
18.  12682  PhD Irena Zdovc  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2014 - 2017  464 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0406  University of Ljubljana, Veterinary Faculty  Ljubljana  1627139  10,689 
2.  3334  National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Foodstaffs  Maribor  6489087  4,700 
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) have been recently linked with hospital infections, but recent reports have indicated an increased frequency of community-acquired infections. Both bacteria are often present in domestic animals and could serve as potential source for human infections. In our project we would like to determine the influence of livestock on human infections with MRSA and C. difficile, therefore extensive examination of animals, food and other potential sources for human infections will be performed. Furthermore, isolated MRSA and C. difficile strains will be characterised and subject to genome analysis. Researchers from Veterinary Faculty, University of Ljubljana and National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Foodstuffs are planning to define the prevalence of MRSA and C. difficile in pigs, horses and poultry and also in milk, meat and meat products. Additionally, MRSA strains isolated from infected or colonised humans, which could be connected with livestock, will be studied. Virulence factors and resistance to antimicrobial agents will be determined for selected strains. The overlap of animal strains with those from human cases and potential spreads will be ascertained with typing methods and comparative genomics. It is expected, that the results of this project will give us an insight in the role of animals for human infections with MRSA and C. difficile and help us to prepare the guidelines for the infection control and for the prevention of spread of these two mentioned bacteria between the same animal species, different animal species and humans.
Significance for science
Epidemiological investigation of MRSA and C. difficile transmission among animals and humans, performed in the scope of this study, is one of the first of such extent, not only in Slovenia but also in a wider geographical area. In particular, an original approach to investigating LA-MRSA infections in humans should be emphasized. To the best of our knowledge, the approach used within this project has not been reported before for clarification of LA-MRSA zoonotic transmission. Concurrent sampling of LA-MRSA infected humans, their family members, domestic animals and environment, along with taking important epidemiological data and using modern typing methods enabled reliable and efficient investigation of infection transmission between humans and animals. As a result, we demonstrated that the source of LA-MRSA are no longer necessarily animals reared at the respective farms since the LA-MRSA strains obviously successfully circle among human population. To the best of our knowledge, we were the first to perform validation of real time PCR (qPCR) for quantification of C. difficile in pigs. Using this method, we analysed C. difficile shedding dynamics in feces of different pig categories (from sucking piglets to adult sows). The results enabled us to get an insight into the spread and the presence/source of C. difficile in the farm environment. This findings will serve as a base for our future research of the metagenomics using next generation sequencing. We expect to determine the source of C. difficile in the environment by employing this technology. Validation of the microdilution method to determine the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) on microtitre plates is an important contribution to standardization of the procedure to determine the resistance of C. difficile against antimicrobials on the global level. The results were published in an internationally recognized public health journal Zoonoses and Public Health. The results related to the work in the scope of the project were published in several internationally recognized journals with impact factor and presented at scientific meetings in Slovenia and abroad.
Significance for the country
Thanks to the project, Slovenia is one of the first countries with an integral view over occurrence and characteristics of MRSA and C. difficile isolates in farm animals and humans. We anticipated that the present research will have an impact on the changes in attitude towards the animal infections with MRSA and C. difficile, and, consequently, an impact on the guidelines for public health protection. The results of the project, related to MRSA, contributed to the implementation of algorithm of action when CA-MRSA (community-acquired MRSA) infections are detected in humans. The algorithm was confirmed by the National Institute of Public Health. CA-MRSA infections in humans should now be reported to the regional epidemiologists. This enables a better overview of CA-MRSA and LA-MRSA infections, as well as tracking the source and prevention of the infections. It was demonstrated that animal owners and caretakers, as well as veterinarians, are particularly at risk of infection and should take appropriate preventive measures. The results have also shown that pigs of Slovenian origin are mostly not infected with LA-MRSA, in contrast to pigs from the western European countries. Considering appropriate biosafety measures which should be implemented on the farms, this could represent an important advantage on a joint European market. During the project, we introduced a new PCR test to detect ermB and tetM genes to determine C. difficile resistance against antimicrobials. This is a contribution to the improvement of diagnostics of C. difficile infections in animals and humans. MRSA and C. difficile infections in humans are a relatively heavy burden for h ealth system in Slovenia. By decreasing the presence of these bacteria on the farms, we would decrease the burden in the environment and in humans. However, we cannot expect a significant improvement of the current situation without additional biosafety measures in the hospitals. Raising the awareness of a general public is of utmost importance to efficiently prevent the infections. Therefore, we included the high school students from the Biotechnical education centre (BIC) into the work on the project. They prepared a research project on MRSA infections and presented them to the professors and fellow students. We believe that this contributed to increasing the awareness among young population which is the most prone to changing the habbits and implementing knowledge. LA-MRSA topics were regularly communicated via lectures to veterinarians which visit or are employed at pig farms. Broader veterinary public was acquainted with LA-MRSA problematics at professional conferences and meetings. The situation regarding LA-MRSA in humans and animals is regularly communicated to the National Committee for Prudent Use of Antimicrobials. The data on antimicrobial resistance and pathogenicity determinants of the isolated strains are important for veterinary and medical professionals, in particular for the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Food Safety, Veterinary and Plant Protection and the National Committee for Prudent Use of Antimicrobials at the Ministry of Health, which is responsible for the preparation of guidelines for prudent use of antimicrobials.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
Views history