Rabbits as a human Staphylococcus aureus reservoir? Preliminary results of a field research

Abstract number: r2006

Circella  E., Bruni  G., Corrente  M., Pennelli  D., Mangano  N., Camarda  A.


Staphylococcus (S.) aureus is responsible for human infections of difficult therapy. In intensive rabbit farms, the germ determines diseases with a heterogeneous epidemiological, clinical and pathological-anatomical picture. In this work, strains of S. aureus, coming from dead rabbits for S. aureus infections in intensive farms, have been typed. Phenotypic and genetic methodologies have been used in order to detect the species origin.


Research analyses have been conducted on 29 strains of S. aureus isolated from rabbits coming from 9 different intensive farms in the Region of Puglia, in South Italy. The Devriese (1984) protocol for biotyping was applied. The genetic typing has been made with Random Amplified Polymorph DNA (Hermans et al. 2000).


The biological typing showed a prominence (62%) of NHS strains. In some cases, specie-specificity of isolates was found; particularly, one strain belonged to the human type, two were bovine strains, two ovine strains and two of poultry. Three isolates were not possible to be determined. Most part of the strains belonged to the CV:A-type (22 strains); the remaining (7 isolates) to CV:C-type. The genetic typing allowed us to distinguish 12 different profiles. The most frequent of them were n.1 and n 6. The human biotype showed a peculiar RAPD profile. The RAPD methodology highlighted in one farm a change in the genetic type of S. aureus that were infecting the rabbits in different times.


In this research heterogeneity in rabbit strains was found. The RAPD showed a prevalent diffusion of the RAPD-1 type infecting farms in different years Dominant genetic types are probably characterized by a higher pathogenic power. Higher virulence is associated to the CV:C type. On the contrary, the CV:A type is seen to be less pathogenic. CV:C/â- strains were often found in human being (Devriese, 1984). The dominance of strains belonging to more than one ecovar might imply that no very strict specie-specificity relations exist. Thus, one animal species could represent a reservoir for others. Consequently, the temporal replacement of the strains in intensive rabbit farms can be favoured by many vectors, including human being, a possible reservoir of the rabbit germ. The find on rabbits of a human strain may suggest the chance of a reverse transfer of the germ from rabbits to man. In this case the rabbit could have the role of S. aureus reservoir for human being.

Session Details

Date: 01/08/2007
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: XXIst ISTH Congress
Location: Oxford, UK
Presentation type:
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