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.