Pets Are Passing On 'Potentially Fatal' Drug-Resistant Infections To Owners

Pet owners are at risk of catching antibiotic-resistant infections such as MRSA and E.coli from their dogs and cats, Public Health England (PHE) has warned.

Animal-lovers are being urged to not ask for antibiotics for their pets unnecessarily and to administer the correct dosages to reduce the likelihood of passing on resistance to superbugs.

"These potentially fatal infections can travel from humans to pets and back again, and we could all be at risk unless we make a concerted effort to use these precious drugs responsibly – both in people and in the pets we love," Jill Moss, founder of the Bella Moss Foundationtold The Telegraph.

Recently, the World Health Organisation warned that levels of antibiotic resistance worldwide are reaching "dangerously" high levels.

Pet owners are now being urged to be mindful of antibiotic use when treating sick pets and not to force veterinarians into administering antibiotics unnecessarily.

They are also being told to ensure pets are given full drug doses if they are issued antibiotics, and are told to wash hands before and after touching animals.

Infections caused by resistant bacteria such as MRSA, E.coli, campylobacter and salmonella are a huge threat to human and animal health, PHE said, because treatment options are severely limited.

Some forms of drug-resistant bacteria can be found in 40% of healthy dogs.

Dr Diane Ashiru-Oredope, pharmacist for the Antimicrobial Resistance programme at PHE said: "Many people do not realise that antibiotic resistant bacteria can pass between humans and animals and vice versa.

"It is important that the antibiotics are taken as prescribed. Even if your pet isn’t keen on the idea of taking tablets, we are urging pet owners to ensure they do."

According to PHE, people can help tackle antibiotic resistance by washing hands regularly, avoiding close contact with sick people, as well as getting vaccinated (and keeping vaccinations up to date).

They advise only using antimicrobial drugs when they are prescribed by a certified health professional and to always complete the full treatment course.

It is also important to never share antibiotics with others or to use leftover prescriptions.

To help tackle the growing health threat, PHE has launched a 'Antibiotic Guardians' campaign which urges members of the public and healthcare professionals to take action in helping to slow antibiotic resistance.