Cats and dogs can transmit antibiotic-resistant bacteria to their owners


06 April 2022

1 minute read


Menezes J, et al. Abstract 01375. Presented at: European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases; April 23-26, 2022; Lisbon, Portugal.

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial information.

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Cats and dogs could pass on antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance genes to their owners, according to study results to be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases this month.

“The idea for this work came from my thesis supervisor, Professor Constanca Pomba, DMV, MSc, PhDwho ran an international research project, the Pet-Risk Consortium, where we took samples from pets ⎼⎼ namely dogs and cats ⎼⎼ and their owners in Portugal and the UK to investigate the possible sharing of third-generation cephalosporin-resistant bacteria among household members,” Juliana Menezes, a PhD student to University of Lisbon in Portugal, says Healio.

Photo of a dog licking a woman's face

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance genes could spread between healthy pets and their owners, researchers have said. Source: Adobe Stock.

Juliana Menezes

Between 2018 and 2020, researchers collected stool samples from 58 healthy people and their 18 cats and 40 dogs in 41 homes in Portugal, and from 56 healthy people and their 45 dogs in 42 homes in the UK. United. They only recruited animals and owners who had not had bacterial infections or taken antibiotics in the 3 months prior to the start of the study.

They took samples at monthly intervals for 4 months and used genetic sequencing to identify the species of bacteria in each sample and the presence of drug resistance genes.

Of the 83 households in total, testing revealed sharing of cephalosporin-resistant drugs Escherichia coli in just two households in Portugal — a rate of 2.4%.

The observational study could not prove that contact with pets caused colonization of humans with resistant bacteria, only that it was possible.

“The share percentage was very low, but still demonstrates the importance of [the] animal-human unity in the dissemination of bacteria resistant to antimicrobials of critical importance to human medicine in the community setting,” said Menezes.

In addition, the study detected extended-spectrum beta-lactamases and plasmid-mediated AmpC-producing Enterobacteriaceae (ESBL/pAMPc) (ESBL-E) in pets and humans from both countries.

A total of 15 pets (14.6%) and 15 humans (13.2%) were carriers of ESBL-E. Among them, the researchers found a multi-resistant profile in seven pets (46.7%) and five humans (33.3%).

“Our results underscore the need for ongoing local surveillance programs for this type of resistance, primarily in companion animals, for which we don’t have much data,” Menezes said.

The references:
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genes passed between healthy dogs and cats and their owners, according to a study in the UK and Portugal. Published April 5, 2022. Accessed April 5, 2022.
Menezes J, et al. Abstract 01375. Presented at: European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases; April 23-26, 2022; Lisbon, Portugal.


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