Dynamics of blaOXA-23 gene transmission in Acinetobacter spp. from contaminated veterinary environmental surfaces: An Emerging One Health threat?

Joana Moreira da Silva, Juliana Menezes, Laura Fernandes, Cátia Marques, Sofia Santos Costa, Dorina Timofte, Andreia Amaral, Constança Pomba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is a common pathogen associated with healthcare-acquired infections, and robust infection prevention and control protocols exist in human healthcare settings. In contrast, infection prevention and control (IPC) standards are limited in Veterinary Medicine, necessitating further investigation.

AIM: Examine the possible transmission of carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter spp. in a veterinary practice where a cat was diagnosed with an OXA-23-producing Acinetobacter baumannii ST2 strain.

METHODS: Environmental samples together with nasal and hand swabs from the veterinary personnel were collected. All swabs were screened for the presence of ESBL- and carbapenemase-producing Enterobacterales; Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus and multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter spp. Whole-genome sequencing was performed for carbapenemase-producing strains.

RESULTS: Of the veterinary staff, 60% carried methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus epidermidis. Environmental evaluation showed that 40% (n=6/15) of the surfaces analysed by contact plates and 40% (n=8/20) by swabs failed the hygiene criteria. Assessment of the surfaces revealed contamination with five OXA-23-producing Acinetobacter spp. strains: an OXA-23-producing Acinetobacter schindleri on the weight scale in the waiting room; and four OXA-23-producing A. lwoffii strains, on different surfaces of the treatment room. The blaOXA-23 gene was located on the same plasmid-carrying Tn2008 across the different Acinetobacter spp. strains. These plasmids closely resemble a previously described OXA-23-encoding plasmid from a human Portuguese nosocomial A. pittii isolate. Distinctly, the OXA-23-producing A. baumannii ST2 clinical strain had the resistant gene located on Tn2006, possibly inserted on the chromosome.

CONCLUSION: The detection of an OXA-23-producing A. baumannii ST2 veterinary clinical strain is of concern for companion animal health and infection, prevention and control. This study established the dynamic of transmission of the plasmid-mediated blaOXA-23 gene on critical surfaces of a small animal veterinary practice. The genetic resemblance to a plasmid found in human nosocomial setting suggests a potential One-health link.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-124
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of hospital infection
Early online date14 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Carbapenem resistance
  • Companion animals
  • Infection, prevention, and control


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