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As reported by EurekAlert, research presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) shows that antibiotic-resistant bacteria has been found in raw dog food, making it an “international public health risk.” 

Bacteria in dog food was the same as found in hospital patients in various European countries, which researchers are concerned is linked to more pet owners feeding their dogs’ trendy raw food. As a result, 700,000 people a year die from drug-resistant infections, and the number is on the rise. By 2050, the number of deaths is projected to be as high as 10 million. Antibiotic resistance is classified as one of the most serious public health threats by the World Health Organisation. 

While the bacteria (Enterococci) is harmless inside the gut of humans and animals, it can cause serious infections if spread throughout the body. 

Dr. Ana R. Freitas, Dr. Carla Novais, Dr. Luísa Peixe, and coworkers from UCIBIO, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Porto, in Portugal, explored dog food as a source for antibiotic-resistant bacteria by looking at different foods from grocery stores and pet stores. 

Out of the 55 samples looked at, 30 of them contained Enterococci. Over 40% of said Enterococci were resistant to several antibiotics, and 23% were resistant to linezolid, which is considered a “last-resort antibiotic.” 

The bacteria could spread to humans, making dog food a potential cause of global antibiotic resistance, which would be incredibly dangerous. 

“The close contact of humans with dogs and the commercialisation of the studied brands in different countries poses an international public health risk,” says Dr. Freitas, “European authorities must raise awareness about the potential health risks when feeding raw diets to pets and the manufacture of dog food, including ingredient selection and hygiene practices, must be reviewed. In addition, dog owners should always wash their hands with soap and water right after handling pet food and after picking up feces.”

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