Objective—To determine the prevalence of 4 urovirulence genes in fecal Escherichia coli isolates from healthy dogs and their owners and to determine whether detection of E coli strains with these genes was associated with a history of urinary tract infection (UTI).
Sample Population—61 healthy dog-owner pairs and 30 healthy non–dog owners.
Procedures—A fecal specimen was obtained from each participant, and 3 colonies of E coli were isolated from each specimen. A multiplex PCR assay was used to detect 4 genes encoding virulence factors: cytotoxic necrotizing factor (cnf), hemolysin (hlyD), s-fimbrial and F1C fimbriae adhesin (sfa/foc), and pilus associated with pyelonephritis G allele III (papGIII). Human participants completed a questionnaire to provide general information and any history of UTI for themselves and, when applicable, their dog.
Results—26% (16/61) of dogs, 18% (11/61) of owners, and 20% (6/30) of non–dog owners had positive test results for ≥ 1 E coli virulence gene. One or more genes were identified in fecal E coli isolates of both dog and owner in 2% (1/61) of households. There was no difference in the detection of any virulence factor between dog-owner pairs. Female owner history of UTI was associated with detection of each virulence factor in E coli strains isolated from their dogs' feces.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Dogs and humans harbored fecal E coli strains possessing the genes cnf, hlyD, sfa/foc, and papGIII that encode urovirulence factors. It was rare for both dog and owner to have fecal E coli strains with these virulence genes.