Portuguese researchers have warned of “an international public health risk” after antibiotic-resistant bacteria were found in several types of raw dog food. that report Guardian.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”, one of the greatest global threats to public health, commonly conjure up images of hospital environments. New research points to a less obvious source: the dog.
“The tendency to feed raw food to dogs may encourage the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” the researchers said in a press release about their study.
In a dog food study, a team from the University of Porto (Portugal) analyzed 55 dog food samples from 25 brands—including 14 frozen raw varieties—in search of antibiotic-resistant enterococci.
Those bacteria can live harmlessly in the stomachs of humans and animals, but can be dangerous in other parts of the body and resistant to antibiotics.
The researchers found that all raw dog food samples contained enterococci. Many of those bacteria are said to be resistant to the antibiotic linezolid, a last resort.
Genetic sequencing showed that some of these antibiotic-resistant bacteria in raw dog food belonged to the same species as those seen in hospitalized patients in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands.
In a separate yet unpublished study, another team from Portugal tested 80 household pet owners and animals for bacteria containing the MCR-1 gene, which confers resistance to the last resort, colistin.
All 126 people tested were healthy, while half of the 102 pets sampled had skin or urinary tract infections. Four people and eight dogs tested positive for the bacteria carrying MCR-1. 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 was transferred between pet and owner,” the study said. Researchers believe the gene was passed from dogs to humans.