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Staphylococcus pseudintermedius septicemia in puppies after elective cesarean section: confirmed transmission via dam’s milk

Zakošek Pipan, Maja, Švara, Tanja, Zdovc, Irena, Papić, Bojan, Avberšek, Jana, Kušar, Darja, Mrkun, Janko
BMC veterinary research 2019 v.15 no.1 pp. 41
Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, abdomen, abdominal cavity, adults, bacteria, bacteriology, blood, cesarean section, dams (hydrology), dams (mothers), disease transmission, feces, gastroenteritis, heart, histopathology, legs, liver, lungs, lymphatic diseases, meninges, milk, mineralization, necropsy, necrosis, neonates, pancreas, pneumonia, puppies, secondary infection, septicemia, sequence analysis, single nucleotide polymorphism, spleen, thoracic cavity
BACKGROUND: In humans, transmission of bacteria causing fatal sepsis in the neonates through mother’s milk has been reported. In dogs, it is believed that bacteria from canine milk are not the primary cause of neonatal infections. Staphylococcus pseudintermedius is colonizing the skin and mucocutaneous junctions in adult dogs and can act as an opportunistic pathogen. This bacterium was previously isolated from the canine milk and, although, its transmission from the dam’s milk to the newborn puppies causing a neonatal sepsis was suggested, this hypothesis has not been confirmed. CASE PRESENTATION: A 4.5-year-old healthy Boston terrier dam had an elective cesarean section, delivering five normal puppies and one dead runt. Next day, two puppies developed pustules on their legs and around the muzzle. After two more days, strings of blood were noticed in the stool of the biggest puppy that suddenly died later that night. The same day, blood became visible in the feces of all other puppies. Necropsy of the dead puppy revealed a distended abdomen, catarrhal gastroenteritis with lymphadenopathy, dark red and slightly firm lung, mild dilatation of the right heart chamber and congestion of the liver, spleen, pancreas and meninges. The thoracic cavity contained white-yellow slightly opaque exudate, and there was transudate in the abdominal cavity. Histopathology revealed an acute interstitial pneumonia and multifocal myocardial necrosis with mineralization. Bacteriology of the internal organs, body cavity effusions of the dead puppy and dam’s milk revealed a diffuse growth of S. pseudintermedius in pure culture. Whole genome sequencing (WGS) revealed that all isolates belonged to the sequence type 241 and differed in 2–5 single nucleotide polymorphisms; thus, the epidemiological link between the outbreak-associated isolates was confirmed. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first report of a confirmed transmission of S. pseudintermedius through dam’s milk causing a neonatal sepsis in a puppy after an elective cesarean section. The epidemiological link between S. pseudintermedius isolates obtained from dam’s milk and internal organs of the affected puppy was confirmed by WGS. Our findings indicate that milk of healthy dams can serve as a reservoir of bacteria that can cause fatal sepsis in the newborn puppies.