Background: Chinchillas (Chinchilla laniger) are popular as pets and are often used as laboratory animals for various studies. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a major infectious agent that causes otitis media, pneumonia, septicaemia enteritis, and sudden death in chinchillas. This bacterium is also a leading cause of nosocomial infections in humans. To prevent propagation of P. aeruginosa infection among humans and animals, detailed characteristics of the isolates, including antibiotic susceptibility and genetic features, are needed. In this study, we surveyed P. aeruginosa distribution in chinchillas bred as pets or laboratory animals. We also characterized the isolates from these chinchillas by testing for antibiotic susceptibility and by gene analysis.
Results: P. aeruginosa was isolated from 41.8% of the 67 chinchillas included in the study. Slide agglutination and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis discriminated 5 serotypes and 7 unique patterns, respectively. For the antibiotic susceptibility test, 40.9% of isolates were susceptible to gentamicin, 77.3% to ciprofloxacin, 77.3% to imipenem, and 72.7% to ceftazidime. DNA analyses confirmed that none of the isolates contained the gene encoding extended-spectrum β-lactamases; however, 2 of the total 23 isolates were found to have a gene similar to the pilL gene that has been identified in the pathogenicity island of a clinical isolate of P. aeruginosa.
Conclusions: P. aeruginosa is widely spread in chinchillas, including strains with reduced susceptibility to the antibiotics and highly virulent strains. The periodic monitoring should be performed to help prevent the propagation of this pathogen and reduce the risk of infection from chinchillas to humans.