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Antibacterial and anti-virulence activity of manuka honey against genetically diverse Staphylococcus pseudintermedius

Brown, Helen L.; Metters, Georgie; Hitchings, Matthew D.; Wilkinson, Thomas S.; Sousa, Luis; Cooper, Jenna; Dance, Harry; Atterbury, Robert J.; Jenkins, Rowena


Helen L. Brown

Georgie Metters

Matthew D. Hitchings

Thomas S. Wilkinson

Luis Sousa

Jenna Cooper

Harry Dance

Rowena Jenkins


Staphylococcus pseudintermedius causes opportunistic infections in dogs. It also has significant zoonotic potential, with the emergence of multidrug-resistance leading to difficulty treating both animal and human infections. Manuka honey has previously been reported to inhibit many bacterial pathogens including methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and is successfully utilised in both clinical and veterinary practice. Here we evaluated the ability of manuka honey to inhibit strains of S. pseudintermedius growth alone and in combination with antibiotics, and its capacity to modulate virulence within multiple S. pseudintermedius. All 18 of the genetically diverse S. pseudintermedius strains sequenced and tested were inhibited by ? 12% (w/v) medical grade manuka honey, although tolerance to five clinically relevant antibiotics was observed. The susceptibility of the isolates to four of these antibiotics was significantly increased (p ?0.05) when combined with sub lethal concentrations of honey, although sensitivity to oxacillin was decreased. Virulence (DNase, protease and haemolysin) activity was also significantly reduced (p ? 0.05) in over half of isolates when cultured with sub lethal concentrations of honey (13, 9 and 10 isolates respectively). These findings highlight the potential for manuka honey to be utilised against S. pseudintermedius infections.

Importance Staphylococcus pseudintermedius is an important member of the skin microbial community in animals and can cause opportunistic infections in both pets and their owners. The high incidence of antimicrobial resistance in S. pseudintermedius highlights that this opportunistic zoonotic pathogen can cause infections which require prolonged and intensive treatment to resolve. Manuka honey has proven efficacy against many bacterial pathogens and is an accepted topical treatment for infections in both veterinary and clinical practice so is a particularly appropriate antimicrobial for use with zoonotic pathogens such as S. pseudintermedius. Here we demonstrate that manuka honey is not only highly potent against novel multi-drug resistant S. pseudintermedius isolates, but also acts synergistically with clinically relevant antibiotics. In addition, manuka honey modulates S. pseudintermedius virulence activity, even at subinhibitory concentrations. In a clinical setting these attributes may assist in controlling infection, allowing a more rapid resolution and reducing antibiotic use.


Brown, H. L., Metters, G., Hitchings, M. D., Wilkinson, T. S., Sousa, L., Cooper, J., …Jenkins, R. (2020). Antibacterial and anti-virulence activity of manuka honey against genetically diverse Staphylococcus pseudintermedius. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 86(20), Article e01768-20.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 28, 2020
Online Publication Date Aug 14, 2020
Publication Date 2020-10
Deposit Date Aug 30, 2020
Publicly Available Date Sep 10, 2020
Journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Print ISSN 0099-2240
Electronic ISSN 1098-5336
Publisher American Society for Microbiology
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 86
Issue 20
Article Number e01768-20
Keywords Biotechnology; Food Science; Ecology; Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Public URL
Publisher URL


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