Sharing Germs with Fido

1 decade 1 year 10 months ago Sunday, May 13 2007 May 13, 2007 Sunday, May 13, 2007 9:48:21 PM CDT May 13, 2007 in News

This week's Your Health with Angie Bailey takes a look at if fido could be carrying around a superbug.

How often does your dog smother you with "kisses" and it's common to hear a dog lover quote "a dogs mouth is cleaner than humans."

But a study being conducted at MU is looking into the question of whether you and your canine could be passing a nasty bacteria back and forth and making it stronger.

There's a tough little bacteria out there, it's got a big name, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. It can stand up to the best of the antibiotics the medical world has to offer.

 "What we're doing is looking at the prevalence of the bacteria in healthy people and their pets," explained Veterinarian Stephanie Kottler. "We're doing three different populations, human health care, veterinary health care and the general population.-The consensus used to be the antibiotic resistant staph was really only a problem in medical settings.

"We thought it was a problem in nursing homes or hospital settings or places where people are very sick of very debilitated," said Dr. Cohn. "Only in the last five to ten years have we found out there are a number of resistant staph that come from the greater community, people who are sports teams, or in prison or in dorms, in crowded situations."

But now it's popping up all over the place, including on your best furry friend.

MU Veterinarian Dr. Stephanie Kottler and the centers for disease control are both looking into it.

"They can have problems with clearing the infection because they pass the bug to an animal in the house and the animal can pass that back to the human and make treatment more difficult," Kottler said.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria is a real problem in the medical and veterinary fields, bad bugs are getting stronger and tried and true antibiotics aren't getting the job done anymore. 

"If you take any situation where you've got a population of bacteria and you expose it to an antibiotic, you're going to have survival of the fittest, something that emerges that resists that," said Middleton.

"What you don't want to do is throw on an antibiotic that works half way or part way, or give what's left of a dose that was for another infection, that's the way you get resistance," said Cohn. "You only wound the bacteria, you don't kill them, and what doesn't kill them, makes them stronger.

All three veterinarians agree, whether it's for a dog or a person, taking the time to make sure whatever is ailing you actually will be helped by an antibiotic is the key.

That often requires culturing which take more time and money, but will let you know for sure and guard against promoting more resistant germs.

Dr. Kottler is looking for volunteers and their dogs to be part of the study. A swab sample is taken from you and your dog's nose.

The study especially needs human health care workers who are directly involved in patient care as well as veterinary health care workers email for study organizer  kottlers@missouri.edu or call the Veterinary school at (573)-882-7821 and ask for Dr. Stephanie Kottler.

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