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Warning to all cat and dog owners over 'superbug' spreading to humans and it's antibiotic-resistant

All dog and cat owners in England warned

ll dog and cat owners in England warned© Reach Publishing Services Limited

Astudy has found that dogs and cats are passing on drug-resistant "superbugs" to their owners. The research, conducted by Portuguese scientists, discovered that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be transferred from ill pets to their healthy owners in the UK.

They advise pet owners to isolate their sick pets in one room and thoroughly clean their homes to prevent the spread of this global threat.

Juliana Menezes, the lead researcher from the University of Lisbon, emphasised: "Our findings underline the importance of including pet-owning households in national programmes that monitor levels of antibiotic resistance.

"She added that understanding more about resistance in pets could help develop targeted interventions to protect both animal and human health. "When your pet is unwell, consider isolating them in one room to prevent the spread of bacteria throughout the house and clean the other rooms thoroughly."

Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are a significant global concern, causing over 1 million deaths worldwide each year. The World Health Organization has warned that we are heading towards a "post-antibiotic" era.

Predictions suggest that antimicrobial resistance could result in 10 million deaths annually by 2050, making it one of the most significant public health threats facing humanity. The spread of these superbugs can turn routine infections and surgeries into life-threatening situations.

Ms Menezes stated: "Recent research indicates that the transmission of antimicrobial resistance bacteria between humans and animals, including pets, is crucial in maintaining resistance levels."

"This challenges the traditional belief that humans are the main carriers of AMR bacteria in the community."

"Understanding and addressing the transmission of AMR bacteria from pets to humans is essential for effectively combating antimicrobial resistance in both human and animal populations."

The latest study, presented at the ESCMID Global Congress, analysed faecal and urine samples as well as skin swabs from dogs, cats and their owners.

The focus was on Enterobacterales - a large family of bacteria which includes E. coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae - resistant to common antibiotics.

Researchers examined five cats, 38 dogs and 78 humans from 43 households in Portugal, along with 22 dogs and 56 humans from 22 UK households.

All of the humans were healthy, while all of the pets had either skin and soft tissue infections or urinary tract infections.

Three cats and 21 dogs, along with 28 owners, had Enterobacterales that were resistant to third generation cephalosporins.

In five households, one with a cat and four with dogs, both pet and owner were found to be carrying resistant bacteria.

Genetic analysis revealed the strains to be identical, suggesting that the bacteria had been transmitted between pet and owner.

In one of these five households, a dog and its owner also had the same strain of antibiotic-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Researchers have stated that while it wasn't possible to definitively prove the direction of transmission, the timing of the positive tests strongly suggests that in some cases, the bacteria were being passed from pet to human.

Story by Kelly Ashmore: Birmingham Mail:  

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