Juliana Menezes

Pets Can Pass Genes for Antibiotic Resistance to Human Infections

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Juliana Menezes MSc

Juliana Menezes

I am a PhD student at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Lisbon. I do my research at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Animal Health under the Supervision of Professor Constança Pomba, the head of the Antibiotic Resistance Lab. The Idea for this work came from my supervisor, that has been working in the field of antibiotic resistance for a while and was leading a research project, the Pet-Risk consortium (http://petrisk.fmv.ulisboa.pt/) which main goal was to evaluate sharing of resistant bacteria between animal and humans (namely ESBL). Following this idea, we thought that would be important to evaluate colistin resistance in animals.”

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: With the global spread of multi-drug carbapenem resistant Gram-negative bacteria, colistin is a last-resort antimicrobial to treat ICU patients in hospitals. Thus, WHO has classified Colistin as a Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobial for human medicine, therefore, resistance represents a serious concern among physicians and scientists.  Increasing trends and prevalence of colistin resistance have been observed worldwide, and the studies are mainly focused on food-producing animals or hospitalized humans, suggesting an exchange of pathogenic bacteria and/or mobile genetic elements between different reservoirs. The rational for this study is the importance to evaluate colistin resistance in companion animals as they are living in direct contact with humans in the community.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? What are the bacteria/antibiotics studied?

Response: We studied a large panel of antimicrobials besides Colistin, and we found evidence of sharing of the mcr-1 colistin resistance gene harbored by the similar multidrug resistant Escherichia coli clone colonizing the GI tract of both a dog with a skin infection and his owner. So, not only we found that our companion animals may harbour this colistin resistance gene (and the prevalence in animals was higher than in humans in our studies in the community), but we also found that they can share this resistance with us and may help the in the spreading of this clinical important bacteria.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: As we found colistin resistance in multidrug resistant bacteria, a careful and responsible antibiotic use is needed to avoid spreading of resistance. Once the sharing was displayed in a case of infection, measures of control and disinfection should be implemented inside the household when we have animals at home with bacterial infections. The environment where the animals stay should be clean more often, the owner should wash their hands often also have to be a little beat apart of the animals when they have infections by multidrug resistant bacteria (avoid kisses, share the bead). 

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: The isolation of multidrug resistant E. coli mcr-1-positive isolates in companion animals, along with its presence in the community, characterized significant outbreak threat, emphasizing the need for continuous local surveillance programs to identify the risk to human health.

There is no veterinary monitoring of colistin resistance in companion animals. Implementation of this type of surveillance in veterinary practices is necessary. Collaboration between professionals in a One Health approach is necessary to develop strategies that foster the reduction of the emergence of colistin resistance in human and veterinary medicine. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Although colistin is not used in companion animals’ antimicrobial therapy, frequent exposure to systemic antimicrobials (to which the bacteria are also resistant) may facilitated the propagation of this type of resistance by co-selection of antimicrobial resistance. It is urgent to have a One Health antimicrobial stewardship approach for the reduction of resistance to last-resort antibiotics.

Citation: Abstract presented at 2021

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Last Updated on July 11, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD