#3: Antimicrobial Resistance in Pets: Are We Ignoring a Looming Threat?
Citing a recent outbreak of leptospirosis in dogs in Phoenix, Arizona, Contagion®
contributor, Saskia v. Popescu, MPH, MA, CIC, a hospital epidemiologist and infection preventionist with Phoenix Children's Hospital, encouraged infectious disease professionals to reevaluate the potential threat of domestic pets and antimicrobial resistance. Most of the research studies on animals and incidence of multi-drug resistant organisms (MDRO’s) focuses on livestock. This is without surprise as a recent report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) noted “extremely high” levels of multidrug resistance in Salmonella
in humans, “food-producing animals,” and food across Europe.
However, with increasing reports of animals being afflicted with MDRO’s, as in the case of the recent death of the infamous SeaWorld orca, Tilikum, from a “persistent and complicated bacterial lung infection,” and the death of the author’s own dog from a drug-resistant pneumonia, an exploration into the potential for the transmission of MDRO’s from pets to humans does not seem so far-fetched. Indeed, bats and non-human primates are notorious sources of emerging infectious diseases.
Even though the risk of transmission of antimicrobial resistance from animals to human remains low, the use of antibiotics in companion animals is quite high, with The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
noting that in terms of antibiotic usage, it “’seems likely that the amount of inappropriate use in companion animal settings is close to the most recent estimates in human medicine—50%.” The US Food and Drug Administration has already taken steps to curtail the inappropriate use of antibiotics in food animals through the Veterinary Feed Directive
which restricts the use of certain drugs to only be administered under the guidance of a licensed veterinarian. However, companion animals have been largely left out of the conversation and they are not even included in the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System.
As the threat of antibiotic resistance continues to grow, infectious disease professionals need to leave no stone unturned in their quest to search for the answers to this deadly problem. Read more about antimicrobial resistance and companion animals here