MissingLink - Investigation of resistance mechanisms in emerging pathogens with the 'OneHealth' concept as missing link

Last updated on 27-1-2021 by Lieke Vervoort
December 16, 2019
March 16, 2024

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In short

This research project gathers knowledge regarding drug resistance in Belgium for two model pathogens:

  • the bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae 
  • the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus

Both pathogens can cause severe and life threatening infections and are resistant to a number of critically important antimicrobials. Through this project, we monitor the situation in Belgium in terms of resistance to antimicrobial agents and map their spread between humans, animals and the environment. The results will be used to advise policy makers to take the appropriate measures. 
 

Project summary

This project aims to fill important gaps in the current monitoring of drug resistance in Belgium. Two pathogens with a great public health implication, not included in the annual antimicrobial resistance (AMR) monitoring program, are used as case studies:

  • The critical fungal pathogens Aspergillus fumigatus 
  • and Klebsiella pneumoniae, the key amplifier and spreader of clinically important AMR genes living in humans, animals and the environment.

Both can cause severe and life threatening infections and are resistant to a number of critically important antimicrobials. 

The use of triazole antifungals in agriculture has been linked to the emergence of azole resistance in clinical A. fumigatus strains. Antimicrobial-resistant K. pneumoniae strains, which are generally not recognized as a foodborne pathogen, have been isolated from marketed fresh vegetables, shrimp in international trade, and farm-raised chicken. Additionally, several resistance genes in K. pneumoniae are located in mobile genetic elements. Thus, the potential contribution of K. pneumoniae to the resistance of clinically relevant bacteria is cause for concern. Through this project, we monitor the situation in Belgium in terms of resistance to antimicrobial agents. Secondly, the emergence of resistance in humans, animals and the use of antimicrobial drugs in the environment is investigated. And finally, the prevalence of resistant isolates in humans, animals and the environment is mapped. 

This ‘OneHealth’ project will give access to isolates not yet sampled through the current surveillance campaigns. Next generation sequencing will be used to further investigate the links between the different reservoirs, the association between resistance and use of drugs, and the key mode of transmission of drug resistant genes or strains. Currently, Belgian data on environmental strains are missing and are highly needed to fill the gap for the investigation of possible cross-resistance. This to have a complete overview of the different reservoirs contributing to the maintenance or emergence of drug resistance. All these results are being used for the establishment of recommendations, allowing policy makers to take the appropriate measures to preserve a sustainable ecosystem and minimize the risks for public and animal health.
 

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