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Pets can transmit antibiotic-resistant superbugs to owners

  • 2 Min To Read
  • a month ago

A recent study presented at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases revealed that sick pets can pass on antibiotic-resistant bacteria to their owners. The research, led by Juliana Menezes from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, and conducted in collaboration with researchers in the U.K., found that over half of the pets tested and over a third of the owners harbored highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The study involved testing urine, poop samples, and skin swabs from sick cats and dogs and their healthy owners for the presence of a family of bacteria called Enterobacterales, which includes E.coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae. These bacteria can cause serious illnesses in humans and are often resistant to conventional antibiotics.

Genetic analysis of the bacteria from pets and their owners confirmed that sick pets had likely passed on the bacteria to their owners. While all owners remained healthy at the time of testing, some individuals, such as the very young, very old, or immunocompromised, may be at higher risk of catching infections from their pets.

The researchers recommended isolating sick pets in one room to prevent the spread of bacteria throughout the house and thorough cleaning of other rooms. The study was part of the PETrisk consortium, which aims to investigate the impact of pets on antibiotic resistance.

The findings underscore the importance of understanding and addressing the transmission of antimicrobial resistance bacteria from pets to humans to combat antibiotic resistance effectively in both human and animal populations. Monitoring organizations are encouraged to incorporate analysis of sick pets and their owners into their data collection efforts.

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