Bad dog? Research suggests a link between the superbug and man’s best friend


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Paris (AFP)

Antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” – which the World Health Organization calls one of the world’s major threats to public health – usually conjure up images of hospital settings.

But new research may point to a less obvious source: the family dog.

Researchers on Sunday warned of “an international public health risk” after finding bacteria resistant to antibiotics in different types of raw dog food.

“The trend to feed dogs raw food could fuel the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” the researchers said in a press release for their study, which will be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Separate research to be presented at the same conference has found that resistance to a last resort antibiotic can be passed between companion dogs and their owners.

Antibiotic resistant insects can make minor injuries and common infections potentially fatal.

Resistance has increased in recent years due to the overuse of these drugs in humans and farm animals.

In the dog food study, a team from the University of Porto analyzed 55 dog food samples from 25 brands, including 14 raw frozen types, for enterococcus bacteria.

The bacteria are able to live safely in the intestines of humans and animals, but can be dangerous in other parts of the body and may be resistant to antibiotics.

The researchers found that all raw dog food samples contained antibiotic-resistant enterococci, including bacteria resistant to linezolid, an antibiotic of last resort.

Genetic sequencing has revealed that some of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria in raw dog food are the same type found in hospital patients in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands.

“The close contact of humans with dogs and the marketing of the brands studied in different countries pose an international public health risk,” said researcher Ana Freitas.

“European authorities must raise awareness of potential health risks when feeding pets raw food and manufacturing dog food, including ingredient selection and hygiene practices, must be reviewed . “

She added that dog owners should wash their hands after handling pet food and disposing of their droppings.

– Threat to health –

In a separate study, which has not yet been submitted to a medical journal for publication, another Portuguese team tested pet owners and animals from 80 households for bacteria with the mcr-1 gene. , which offers resistance to the last resort antibiotic colistin.

All 126 humans were healthy, while half of the 102 pets sampled suffered from skin or urinary tract infections.

Four humans and eight dogs tested positive for bacteria carrying mcr-1, and in two households the gene was found in both the dog and its owner.

“Genetic analysis of the samples suggested that in one of these two cases, the gene had been passed between the animal and the owner,” a research press release said, adding that it was believed that the gene had passed from dogs to humans.

They added that it raises concerns that pets could spread resistance to antibiotics of last resort.

The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks antibiotic resistance as one of the greatest public health threats facing humanity.

Drug-resistant infections kill an estimated 700,000 people a year worldwide and the UN has warned that this could reach 10 million by 2050 if no action is taken.

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