Background: The presence of carbapenemase-producing bacteria (CPB) in animal hosts and along the food chain may result in the development of reservoirs for human infections. Several CPB strains isolated from animals have been reported, suggesting that transmission and dissemination of the corresponding genes between humans and animals may occur. Animal and food samples have complex backgrounds that hinder the detection of CPB present in low concentrations by standard detection procedures. Methods: We evaluated the possibility of detecting blaKPC, blaVIM, and blaOXA-48-like carbapenemases in 286 animal and food samples (faeces from farm and companion animals, raw meat, bivalve molluscs) by culture-based and standard molecular methods and by ddPCR. Results: The proposed ddPCR managed to detect the target genes, also in samples resulting negative to standard methods. While the presence of blaKPC and blaVIM was detected in few samples (~3%), one third of the samples (n = 94/283) carried different variants of blaOXA-48-like genes. Conclusion: A specific and sensitive method such as ddPCR could be suitable to evaluate the current veterinarian and environmental situation and to assess the dynamic transmission and persistence of CPB between animals and humans and vice versa.
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