Could Germs Resistant to Antibiotics Be Passed Between You and Your Pet?
THE 6TH OF APRIL, 2022 (HealthDay News) — If you're looking for a way to feel better, Humans and their dogs have a strong link, but recent research suggests that they may also share antibiotic-resistant microbes.
Even worse for humans, these bacteria may include antibiotic-resistant genes, causing the bacteria already present in their body to become resistant to medications like penicillin and cephalosporins, according to the study.
We discovered indications of cephalosporin-resistant Escherichia coli invading both pets and owners' gastrointestinal tracts, said lead researcher Juliana Menezes, a PhD student in applied microbiology at the University of Lisbon in Portugal.
These findings are key in demonstrating the impact of pet-to-human transmission of bacteria resistant to vital antimicrobials in the community environment, she said.
The researchers noted that because this was an observational study, they couldn't show that intimate contact with pets causes infection with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Infections caused by ESBL and AmpC-producing Enterobacteriaceae (AmpC-E) and Carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriales (CPE) strains, which are resistant to numerous medicines, are particularly worrying.
According to the study's authors, antibiotic resistance is one of the most serious dangers to public health since it can make illnesses like pneumonia, sepsis, urinary tract infections, and wound infections untreatable.
These findings highlight the importance of maintaining excellent cleanliness around pets and reducing unnecessary antibiotic use in both animals and humans.
Menezes and her colleagues took stool samples from 58 healthy individuals, 18 cats, and 40 dogs from 41 homes in Portugal, as well as 56 people and 45 dogs from 42 homes in the United Kingdom, for the study.
The samples were gathered over a four-month period, and DNA sequencing was utilized to identify the bacterium kinds in each sample as well as any drug resistance genes.
Between 2018 and 2020, the researchers discovered ESBL/AmpC-producing bacteria in 15 out of 103 pets (15%) and 15 out of 114 pet owners (13%).
Nearly half of the cats and dogs, as well as one-third of the people, tested positive for at least one multidrug-resistant bacterium strain.
The ESBL/pAMPc resistance genes in the pets in four Portuguese houses matched those discovered in the owners' stool samples. The germs in pets in two of the households matched E. coli strains discovered in their owners' stool samples.
Because the bacteria colonized the gastrointestinal tract, transmission happened via the fecal-oral channel, Menezes explained. Good hygiene habits on the side of owners, such as washing hands after collecting their pet's excrement, would assist to decrease sharing. Our findings highlight the importance of ongoing local surveillance initiatives to uncover human health risks.
The findings will be presented on April 23 in Lisbon, Portugal at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Medical meeting findings are considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed publication.
It's not surprising to me that bacteria, and hence resistance genes, may move back and forth between humans and animals, said Dr. Marc Siegel, an infectious disease expert and professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. It's a warning for pet owners to be more vigilant.
He stated that you could have E. coli that doesn't have a resistance gene, but the one you get from your pet transmits it to you, and then you have resistant E. coli.
Antibiotics are becoming less effective as a result of the growing problem of resistant bacteria, according to Siegel. And, he added, the problem is just going to become worse.
We're not producing new antibiotics as quickly as we used to, Siegel added. As a result, we don't have the medicines to keep up with the resistant bacteria's growth.
The issue, according to Siegel, is that there isn't much money to be earned in creating new antibiotics. Every time you take a tablet, the pharmaceutical industry profits. They don't if you only take it when you have an outbreak, it's that simple he stated
When you're near your pet, Siegel recommends washing your hands more frequently to avoid picking up antibiotic-resistant bugs.
You may assume your pet licking you is a sign of affection, but it may not be, he said.