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J Vet Med Sci. 2017 Mar 18;79(3):486-491. doi: 10.1292/jvms.16-0585. Epub 2017 Feb 11.

Probable secondary transmission of antimicrobial-resistant Escherichia coli between people living with and without pets.

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Department of Veterinary Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, BK21 Plus Program for Veterinary Science and Research Institute for Veterinary Science, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-742, Republic of Korea.


Companion animals are considered as one of the reservoirs of antimicrobial-resistant (AR) bacteria that can be cross-transmitted to humans. However, limited information is available on the possibility of AR bacteria originating from companion animals being transmitted secondarily from owners to non-owners sharing the same space. To address this issue, the present study investigated clonal relatedness among AR E. coli isolated from dog owners and non-owners in the same college classroom or household. Anal samples (n=48) were obtained from 14 owners and 34 non-owners; 31 E. coli isolates were collected (nine from owners and 22 from non-owners). Of 31 E. coli, 20 isolates (64.5%) were resistant to at least one antimicrobial, and 16 isolates (51.6%) were determined as multi-drug resistant E. coli. Six isolates (19.4%) harbored integrase genes (five harbored class I integrase gene and one harbored class 2 integrase gene, respectively). Pulsed-field gel electrophoretic analysis identified three different E. coli clonal sets among isolates, indicating that cross-transmission of AR E. coli can easily occur between owners and non-owners. The findings emphasize a potential risk of spread of AR bacteria originating from pets within human communities, once they are transferred to humans. Further studies are needed to evaluate the exact risk and identify the risk factors of secondarily transmission by investigating larger numbers of isolates from pets, their owners and non-owners in a community.

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