Characterization of Bacterial Flora Present on Squirrel Populous at Butler University

Ethan Kitt Butler University, Matthew A. Tille Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Michael Trombley Butler University
The rise of antibiotic resistance over the past thirty years impacts modern healthcare and poses a significant risk to human health. According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistance is a leading global health concern for 2019. In addition to concerns regarding antibiotic resistance in pathogenic organisms, there has been growing concern in the rise of drug-resistant microbiota found within the general population. For example, the CDC estimates 2-3% of the population are carriers for MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus), meaning there are potentially over 10 million carriers of this organism in the USA alone. It is disconcerting that studies have found antibiotic resistance bacteria on numerous plants and animals, indicating that the spread of antibiotic resistance is not limited to medically-relevant human pathogens. The purpose of this study was to characterize the bacterial flora found on the squirrels surrounding Butler University's campus, including determining susceptibility to commonly used antibiotics. Initial findings showed isolated strains of Staphylococcus aureus found on squirrels had an increased resistance to antibiotics, including significant resistance to methicillin similar to human MRSA strains. This study and results hold relevance on a campus, such as Butler University, due to the high populous of squirrels in close proximity to humans. The implications on human health as a result of antibiotic resistant microbial strains remains unclear, but it is alarming that the native rodent population appears to harbor drug-resistant microbes. Additionally, this study raises questions regarding the transmission of antibiotic resistant strains and the origins of such antibiotic resistance.
Oral Presentation

When & Where

09:00 AM
Gallahue Hall 106