The transfer of antibiotic resistant bugs in saliva from pet to person

There’s a report out online about the dangers of antibiotic resistant bugs being transferred from cats and dogs to their owners via saliva.

Adele Dickson and daughters plus Millie
Adele Dickson and daughters plus Millie. Photo:
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The theory is as follows. The overprescription of antibiotics for pets can result in antimicrobial resistance (AMR). In other words bugs inside pets can become resistant to antibiotics. And there is a general overprescription of antibiotics in pets in my view because vets play safe when they are unsure if they are treating a virus or a bacteria.

If you are one of those dog and cat owners who kisses their pet on or near the mouth, for instance, the antibiotic resistant bugs in the cat or dog could be transferred to the person where they may cause a bacterial infection which cannot be cured by antibiotics.

The idea comes from scientists, lead by Dr Adele Dickson, at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) in collaboration with Health Protection Scotland, Monash University in Australia and the Open University. They suggest that pet owners should make some small changes to their relationship with their cats and dogs. They don’t argue that people become less affectionate, just a little bit more cautious in terms of health issues. The research is published online on the Health Psychology And Behavioural Medicine website I believe.

Kissing your cat
Kissing your cat. Photo in public domain.

One recommendation they make which I believe is entirely impractical and overly cautious is to wash your hands after you have stroked your cat. I suppose the idea is that when cats grooms themselves, they deposit their saliva on their fur and bugs in the saliva can be transferred to the owner’s hand and thence to their mouth after petting their cat. However, I have never heard of cat owners getting a bacterial infection this way. I am not saying the advice is poor, I am just questioning it as too demanding.

However, I do agree that a big threat to health of pets and people is the overprescription of antibiotics. Think of the catastrophe if antibiotics did not work. We would have to abandon many operations. We’d be put back to the 19th century.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

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