Pets in the UK have found a gene that allows bacteria to become resistant to an antibacterial agent.
Linezolid is used to relieve the infamous MRSA super bacterium and to treat streptococci, which can lead to pneumonia and sepsis.
Now three cats and a dog have been found that are bacteria & # 39; armed & # 39; have a gene that can elicit resistance to the antibiotic that is not licensed for veterinary use in the UK.
Public Health England fears that the & # 39; resistance gene & # 39; – also known as performA – could spread between bacteria found in animals and their owners.
The nation's pets can feed the antibiotic resistance crisis, research suggests (stock)
& # 39; We believe that this is the first report of aandA-positive enterococci isolated from pet animals in the UK, & # 39; said study author Dr. Katie Hopkins.
& # 39; This is worrying because transferring this organism to owners offers the possibility to spread to other bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. & # 39;
Staphylococcus aureus lives harmlessly on the skin of many people, but can cause blood poisoning or toxic shock if it enters the body through a cut.
Dr. Hopkins is a clinical scientist in the Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infections Reference Unit.
She added: & # 39; To minimize the transmission of resistant bacteria between companion animals and humans, veterinary operations must ensure that there is adequate cleaning and that pet owners must wash their hands after handling pets & # 39;
The & # 39; first-time case & # 39; came about during routine antibiotic resistance testing of a cat's wound.
A cotton swab was found to contain Enterococcus faecalis, a bacterium that causes urinary tract infections and has shown antibiotic resistance.
The rod was referred to PHE by a veterinary diagnostic laboratory.
Three other E. faecalis swabs from two other cats and one dog from the same vet, but different homes, were also analyzed.
Four E. faecalis samples from three swabs – together with a rectal cotton swab – were found to be resistant to linezolid.
Worryingly enough, all four samples were also positive for PerformA, also involved in resistance to florfenicol – which is used in animals.
WHAT IS ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCE?
Antibiotics have been unnecessarily decked out by doctors and hospital staff for decades, so that once harmless bacteria are moved into super bacteria.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously warned that if nothing is done, the world is moving towards a & # 39; post-antibiotic & # 39; era.
It claimed that common infections, such as chlamydia, become murderers without immediate solutions to the growing crisis.
Bacteria can become drug resistant if people use incorrect doses of antibiotics or if they are administered unnecessarily.
Chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies claimed in 2016 that the threat of antibiotic resistance is just as serious as terrorism.
Figures estimate that superugs will kill 10 million people every year, with patients succumbing to once harmless bugs.
Around 700,000 people die every year from drug-resistant infections, including tuberculosis (TB), HIV and malaria around the world.
There have been repeated concerns that medicine will be reduced to the & # 39; dark ages & # 39; if antibiotics no longer work in the coming years.
In addition to the fact that existing medicines are becoming less effective, only one or two new antibiotics have been developed in the last 30 years.
In September, the WHO warned that antibiotics are running out & # 39 ;, because a report has a & # 39; serious deficiency & # 39; found new drugs in the development pipeline.
Without antibiotics, C-coupes, cancer treatments and hip prostheses become incredibly risky & # 39 ;, it was said at the time.
The bacterial samples also did not respond to the gentamicin antibiotic, which often treats infections of the heart, central nervous system, and eye.
However, the bacteria were sensitive to the antibiotics teicoplanin, vancomycin and daptomycin.
Linezolid resistance is considered rare and is usually related to mutations of the genes on chromosomes.
This makes the resistance unable to spread to other bacteria.
However, genes encoding linezolid resistance – such as aandA – are increasingly seen on & # 39; mobile pieces of DNA that cause plasmids & # 39 ;, which can spread.
Florfenicol is indicated for the treatment of respiratory diseases in cattle, which can be caused by bacteria and can cause fatal pneumonia.
Dr. Hopkins added that the findings demonstrate that antibiotic resistance can be shared by animals and humans, although the direction of transfer is often difficult to prove & # 39; is.
She said further transmission was & # 39; stopped by cleansing and decontamination and we have no evidence that people have contracted an infection of these animals & # 39 ;.
Dr. Hopkins said: & # 39; Transmission of this organism to owners carries the potential for plasmid-mediated spread to other bacteria, particularly in healthcare environments. & # 39;
She warned the findings presented at the meeting of the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Amsterdam. is important for public health. & # 39;
Because pets live so close to their owners, they are more likely to transfer resistant bacteria to people than farm animals.
This transfer mainly takes place via saliva or skin-to-skin contact.
There is increasing concern that pets run the risk of becoming reservoirs of resistant microbes that then pass into their owners with disastrous consequences.
Research has suggested that pets may contain MRSA, which is then passed between other animals and humans.
Cats and dogs have the same bacterial strain as humans have found scientists at the University of Cambridge.
MRSA can spread in a similar way to hospital infections among animals in animal clinics, they said.
Figures suggest about one in 100 cats and two to nine percent of dogs in the UK are carriers of MRSA. It is also found in horses.