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Title: Melioidosis fatalities in captive slender-tailed meerkats (Suricata suricatta): combining epidemiology, pathology and whole-genome sequencing supports variable mechanisms of transmission with one health implications.
Authors: Rachlin, Audrey
Shilton, Cathy
Webb, Jessica R
Mayo, Mark
Kaestli, Mirjam
Kleinecke, Mariana
Rigas, Vanessa
Benedict, Suresh
Gurry, Ian
Currie, Bart J
Citation: BMC veterinary research 2019-12-19; 15(1): 458
Abstract: Melioidosis is a tropical infectious disease which is being increasingly recognised throughout the globe. Infection occurs in humans and animals, typically through direct exposure to soil or water containing the environmental bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei. Case clusters of melioidosis have been described in humans following severe weather events and in exotic animals imported into melioidosis endemic zones. Direct transmission of B. pseudomallei between animals and/or humans has been documented but is considered extremely rare. Between March 2015 and October 2016 eight fatal cases of melioidosis were reported in slender-tailed meerkats (Suricata suricatta) on display at a Wildlife Park in Northern Australia. To further investigate the melioidosis case cluster we sampled the meerkat enclosure and adjacent park areas and performed whole-genome sequencing (WGS) on all culture-positive B. pseudomallei environmental and clinical isolates. WGS confirmed that the fatalities were caused by two different B. pseudomallei sequence types (STs) but that seven of the meerkat isolates were highly similar on the whole-genome level. Used concurrently with detailed pathology data, our results demonstrate that the seven cases originated from a single original source, but routes of infection varied amongst meerkats belonging to the clonal outbreak cluster. Moreover, in some instances direct transmission may have transpired through wounds inflicted while fighting. Collectively, this study supports the use of high-resolution WGS to enhance epidemiological investigations into transmission modalities and pathogenesis of melioidosis, especially in the instance of a possible clonal outbreak scenario in exotic zoological collections. Such findings from an animal outbreak have important One Health implications.
Click to open PubMed article: https://www.ezpdhcs.nt.gov.au/login?url=https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31856823
Click to open Pubmed Article: https://www.ezpdhcs.nt.gov.au/login?url=https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31856823
Journal title: BMC veterinary research
Publication Date: 2019-12-19
Type: Journal Article
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10137/7993
DOI: 10.1186/s12917-019-2198-9
Appears in Collections:(a) NT Health Research Collection

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