Wednesday, January 19

Raw Dog Food ‘May Be Driving Spread of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria’ | Antibiotics


Antibiotic resistant “superbugs”, which the World Health Organization calls one of the world’s leading public health threats, often conjure up images of hospital settings. But the research may point to a less obvious source: the family dog.

The researchers warned of “an international public health risk” after finding antibiotic-resistant bacteria in a variety of different types of raw dog food.

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

A separate investigation to be presented at the same conference found that resistance to a last-resort antibiotic may be passing between dogs and their owners.

Antibiotic-resistant insects can make minor injuries and common infections life-threatening.

Resistance has increased in recent years due to overuse of such 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 frozen raw types, for Enterococci bacteria.

The bacteria can live harmlessly in the intestines of humans and animals, but it can be dangerous in other parts of the body and can be resistant to antibiotics.

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

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

“The close contact of humans with dogs and the commercialization of the brands studied in different countries poses a risk to international public health,” said researcher Ana Freitas.

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

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

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

All 126 humans were healthy, while half of the 102 pets sampled had 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 pet and the owner,” the research said, adding that the gene was thought to be passed from a dog to a human.

This raised concerns that pets could spread resistance to last-resort antibiotics.

The WHO ranks antibiotic resistance as one of the greatest public health threats facing humanity.

Drug-resistant infections kill about 700,000 people a year worldwide, and the UN has warned that they could rise to 10 million by 2050 if no action is taken.


www.theguardian.com

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