Zoos are places open for a large number of visitors, adults and children, who can admire exotic as well as indigenous animal species. The premises for animals may contains pathogenic microbes, including those exhibiting antibiotic resistance. It poses a serious threat to people remaining within the zoo premises, both for animal keepers who meet animals on a daily basis and visitors who infrequently have contact with animals.
Unfortunately, there are almost no studies concerning on the presense, on the concentration of airborne bacteria, especially staphylococci and faecal bacteria in animal shelters in the zoo. No data about antibiotic resistance of staphylococci in these places. The results will enable to determine the scale of the threat that indicator bacteria from the bioaerosol pose to human health within zoo premises.
This study conducted in rooms for 5 animals group (giraffes, camels, elephants, kangaroos and colobinae) in the Silesian Zoological Garden in Chorzów (Poland). The bioaerosol samples were collected using a six-stage Andersen cascade impactor to assess the concentrations and size distribution of airborne bacteria. Staphylococci were isolated from bioaerosol and tested for antibiotic resistance.
In our study the highest concentration of staphylococci and fecal bacteria was recorded in rooms for camels and elephants, the lowest in rooms for colobinae. At least 2/3 of bacteria in bioaerosol constituted respirable fraction, that migrates into the lower respiratory tract of the animals and the people. In investigated animal rooms the greatest bacteria contribution was recorded for bioaerosol fraction sized 1.1–3.3µm. Bacterial intoxication was particularly strong in spring and autumn, what is related to shedding fur by animals.
Among the isolated staphylococci most often occurred Staphylococcus succinus, S. sciuri and S. vitulinus. The highest antibiotic resistance was noted in the case of Staphylococcus epidermidis, while the lowest for S. xylosus.
As the animals constitute a significant source of staphylococci and fecal bacteria, attention should be paid to thorough cleaning of their shelters.