Genomic analysis of companion rabbit Staphylococcus aureus
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In addition to being an important human pathogen, Staphylococcus aureus is able to cause a variety of infections in numerous other host species. While the S. aureus strains causing infection in several of these hosts have been well characterised, this is not the case for companion rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus), where little data are available on S. aureus strains from this host. To address this deficiency we have performed antimicrobial susceptibility testing and genome sequencing on a collection of S. aureus isolates from companion rabbits. The findings show a diverse S. aureus population is able to cause infection in this host, and while antimicrobial resistance was uncommon, the isolates possess a range of known and putative virulence factors consistent with a diverse clinical presentation in companion rabbits including severe abscesses. We additionally show that companion rabbit isolates carry polymorphisms within dltB as described as underlying host-adaption of S. aureus to farmed rabbits. The availability of S. aureus genome sequences from companion rabbits provides an important aid to understanding the pathogenesis of disease in this host and in the clinical management and surveillance of these infections.
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