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Home - News - Antibiotic-Resistant Strains Found in Pets: A Wake-Up Call

Antibiotic-Resistant Strains Found in Pets: A Wake-Up Call

April 22, 2024

Recent research has highlighted a concerning issue: pet dogs and cats can serve as carriers of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, posing a potential risk to human health. A study conducted in Portugal and the UK has provided evidence of direct transmission of multidrug-resistant bacteria between sick pets and their healthy owners. This discovery raises concerns about the role of pets in spreading resistance to crucial medicines.


Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are microorganisms that have developed the ability to survive and grow in the presence of antibiotics, rendering these drugs ineffective against them. The emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria pose significant challenges to public health. Infections caused by these bacteria are more difficult to treat, leading to prolonged illnesses, increased healthcare costs and higher mortality rates. Moreover, the limited availability of effective antibiotics against resistant strains also compromise the success of medical procedures.


The study found that both sick pets and their healthy owners carried antibiotic-resistant strains of Enterobacterales, indicating the potential for transmission. In Portugal, 55.8% of pets and 35.9% of their owners carried bacteria resistant to third-generation cephalosporins. Similarly, in the UK, 36.4% of pets and 12.5% of owners carried bacteria resistant to third-generation cephalosporins. The study also observed the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in several households, with matching strains found in both pets and owners.


In light of these findings, the researchers emphasize the importance of including pet-owning households in national programs that monitor levels of antibiotic resistance. This inclusion will provide valuable insights into the dynamics of transmission and aid in the development of effective strategies. Additionally, practicing good hygiene is crucial in preventing the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Simple measures such as washing hands after petting animals and handling their waste are strongly recommended. Furthermore, isolating unwell pets in one room and thoroughly cleaning other rooms help contain the spread of bacteria within the household.