A Survey of Current Activities and Technologies Used to Detect Carbapenem Resistance in Bacteria Isolated from Companion Animals at Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories-United States, 2020.
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Carbapenems are antimicrobial drugs reserved for the treatment of severe multidrug-resistant Gram-negative bacterial infections. Carbapenem-resistant organisms (CROs) are an urgent public health threat and have been made reportable to public health authorities in many jurisdictions. Recent reports of CROs in companion animals and veterinary settings suggest that CROs are a One Health problem. However, standard practices of U.S. veterinary diagnostic laboratories (VDLs) to detect CROs are unknown. We assessed the capacity of VDLs to characterize carbapenem resistance in isolates from companion animals. Among 74 VDLs surveyed in 42 states, 23 laboratories (31%) from 22 states responded. Most (22/23, 96%) included 1 carbapenem on their primary antimicrobial susceptibility testing panel, and approximately one-third (9/23, 39%) performed phenotypic carbapenemase production testing or molecular identification of carbapenemase genes. Overall, 35% (8/23) of VDLs across eight states reported they would notify public health if a CRO was detected. Most (17/21, 81%) VDLs were not aware of CRO reporting mandates, and some expressed uncertainty about whether the scope of known mandates included CROs from veterinary sources. Although nearly all surveyed VDLs tested for carbapenem resistance, fewer had the capacity for mechanism testing or awareness of public health reporting requirements. Addressing these gaps is critical to monitoring CRO incidence and trends in veterinary medicine, preventing spread in veterinary settings, and mounting an effective One Health response. Improved collaboration and communication between public health and veterinary medicine is critical to inform infection control practices in veterinary settings and conduct a public health response when resistant isolates are detected.