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Comparison of clonal relatedness and antimicrobial susceptibility of fecal Escherichia coli from healthy dogs and their owners

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  • 1 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 2 Department of Comparative Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 3 Food Safety Center of Excellence, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 4 Food Safety Center of Excellence, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 5 Food Safety Center of Excellence, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 6 Food Safety Center of Excellence, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.
  • | 7 Department of Medical Genetics, School of Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37920.
  • | 8 Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996.

Abstract

Objective—To determine prevalence of within-household sharing of fecal Escherichia coli between dogs and their owners on the basis of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), compare antimicrobial susceptibility between isolates from dogs and their owners, and evaluate epidemiologic features of cross-species sharing by use of a questionnaire.

Sample Population—61 healthy dog-owner pairs and 30 healthy control humans.

Procedures—3 fecal E coli colonies were isolated from each participant; PFGE profiles were used to establish relatedness among bacterial isolates. Susceptibility to 17 antimicrobials was determined via disk diffusion. A questionnaire was used to evaluate signalment, previous antimicrobial therapy, hygiene, and relationship with dog.

Results—A wide array of PFGE profiles was observed in E coli isolates from all participants. Within-household sharing occurred with 9.8% prevalence, and across-household sharing occurred with 0.3% prevalence. No behaviors were associated with increased clonal sharing between dog and owner. No differences were found in susceptibility results between dog-owner pairs. Control isolates were more likely than canine isolates to be resistant to ampicillin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Owners and control humans carried more multdrug-resistant E coli than did dogs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Within-household sharing of E coli was detected more commonly than across-household sharing, but both direct contact and environmental reservoirs may be routes of cross-species sharing of bacteria and genes for resistance. Cross-species bacterial sharing is a potential public health concern, and good hygiene is recommended.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Stenske's present address is the Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.

Supported by the Maurice M. Acree Jr. Endowment.

Presented in part at the 26th Annual American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum, San Antonio, Tex, June 2008.

Address correspondence to Dr. Stenske.