Research by others

Here you can find research we find interesting, done by other teams. Enjoy!

Although it is widely accepted that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can be transmitted between humans and animals in both directions, little is known about the dynamics of animal-to-animal transfer. This study aimed to investigate aspects of dog-to-dog MRSA transfer in a rescue facility in the South-East of England during an MRSA outbreak.

One hundred and twenty-nine apparently healthy dogs, mostly housed in pairs, were swabbed at nasal, oral, axillary and perianal sites. Swabs were enriched in selective broth and staphylococci identified using standard biological methods. MRSA isolates were confirmed by demonstration of the thermonuclease gene (nuc) and mecA. After initial swabbing, a dog excluded from the study design but housed at the same facility was discovered to have a wound infection due to MRSA.

MRSA carriage was identified in 10/129 dogs (7.8%) and all isolates were of the same lineage as the one isolated from the infected dog. All carrier dogs lived in shared kennels and their 16 kennel partners sampled negative on two occasions. Concurrently with successful antimicrobial treatment of the infected patient, MRSA carriage resolved spontaneously in all dogs within two weeks.

In conclusion, MRSA did not transmit readily between apparently healthy dogs, MRSA carriage was not supported for long periods in a regularly cleaned environment and exposure alone may not lead to MRSA acquisition by dogs without the presence of additional risk factors.

You can find the full "Lack of transmission of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) between apparently healthy dogs in a rescue kennel" study here.

Although veterinary practitioners know that nutrition can make a difference in the health and recovery from disease or illness in dogs and cats, they may feel poorly equipped to provide unbiased information on nutrition.

This article provides information about evaluating and recommending diets and interpreting a pet food label to allow for comparisons among pet foods and discussion about how to do a nutritional assessment. It provides an example of how nutritional assessment and recommendation were successfully introduced into a busy private practice.

Finally, some of the myths and misperceptions about nutrition are discussed with information provided from evidence-based research.

You can find the full "Nutritional Concepts for the Veterinary Practitioner" study here.

Information and misinformation about pet nutrition and pet foods, including ingredients used in pet foods, is widely available through various sources. Often, this “information” raises questions or concerns among pet owners. Many pet owners will turn to their veterinarian for answers to these questions.

One of the challenges that veterinarians have is keeping up with the volume of misinformation about pet foods and sorting out fact from fiction.

The goal of this article is to provide facts regarding some common myths about ingredients used in commercial pet foods so as to better prepare veterinarians to address their client's questions.

You can find the full "Myths and Misperceptions About Ingredients Used in Commercial Pet Foods" study here.

The role of pet dogs and cats as suitable source of human infections by the diarrheagenic protozoan parasites Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. has been a topic of intense debate for long time and still remains a largely unsolved problem. In this cross-sectional molecular epidemiological survey we attempted to investigate whether zoonotic (or zooanthroponotic) disease transmission was occurring among humans and domestic dogs and cats sharing the same spatial and temporal setting in both rural and urban areas of the province of Álava, Northern Spain.

A total of 268 (including 179 human, 55 canine, and 34 feline) individual faecal specimens were obtained from 63 family households during February–March and November–December 2014. Detection of G. duodenalis cysts and Cryptosporidium spp. oocysts was achieved by direct fluorescence microscopy (DFAT) and PCR-based methods targeting the small subunit (SSU) ribosomal RNA gene of the parasites. Giardia-positive isolates were subsequently sub-genotyped at the glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH) and β-giardin (BG) genes.

Overall, G. duodenalisinfections were identified in 3.4% (6/179) of humans, 29% (16/55) of dogs, and 5.9% (2/34) of cats, respectively. Cryptosporidium spp. infections were detected in 1.1% (2/179) of humans, 5.5% (3/55) of dogs, and 8.8% (3/34) of cats, respectively. Simultaneous infections in human and canine/feline hosts by G. duodenalis or Cryptosporidium spp. were only demonstrated in a single household in which a cat and its owner tested positive for Cryptosporidium by DFAT, but this result could not be confirmed by SSU-PCR. Infections were homogeneously distributed among the studied human or animal populations irrespectively of their sex, age group, or geographical region of origin. Inadequate washing of raw vegetables and fruits was the only risk factor significantly associated to a higher likelihood of having human giardiosis/cryptosporidiosis.

Molecular characterization of G. duodenalis isolates revealed the presence of sub-assemblage BIV in a single human isolate. All dog (n = 3) and cat (n = 2) isolates successfully genotyped were assigned to canine- and feline-specific assemblages C and F, respectively.

No mixed assemblage or sub-assemblage infections could be demonstrated. Regarding Cryptosporidium, C. canis was found infecting dogs (n = 2), and C. felis a single cat. Attempts to amplify and characterize Cryptosporidium human isolates failed repeatedly.

Our results suggest that pet dogs and cats do not seem to play a significant role as suitable reservoirs of human giardiosis or cryptosporidiosis in the province of Álava. We conclude, therefore, that zoonotic transmission of giardiosis or cryptosporidiosis among pet dogs and cats and their owners in this geographical region is very likely a rare event.

You can find the full "No molecular epidemiological evidence supporting household transmission of zoonotic Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp. from pet dogs and cats in the province of Álava, Northern Spain" study here.

Melamine can be present at low levels in food and feed mostly from its legal use as a food contact material in laminates and plastics, as a trace contaminant in nitrogen supplements used in animal feeds, and as a metabolite of the pesticide cyromazine.

The mechanism of toxicity of melamine involves dose-dependent formation of crystals with either endogenous uric acid or a structural analogue of melamine, cyanuric acid, in renal tubules resulting in potential acute kidney failure. Co-exposure to melamine and cyanuric acid in livestock, fish, pets and laboratory animals shows higher toxicity compared with melamine or cyanuric acid alone.

Evidence for crystal formation between melamine and other structural analogs i.e. ammelide and ammeline is limited. Illegal pet food adulterations with melamine and cyanuric acid and adulteration of milk with melamine resulted in melamine–cyanuric acid crystals, kidney damage and deaths of cats and dogs and melamine–uric acid stones, hospitalisation and deaths of children in China respectively.

Following these incidents, the tolerable daily intake for melamine was re-evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organisation, and the Scientific Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). This review provides an overview of toxicology, the adulteration incidents and risk assessments for melamine and its structural analogues.

Particular focus is given to the recent EFSA risk assessment addressing impacts on animal and human health of background levels of melamine and structural analogues in animal feed. Recent research and future directions are discussed.

You can find the full "Recent advances in the risk assessment of melamine and cyanuric acid in animal feed" study here.

Commercial pet food in USA is generally safe, but adulteration does occur. Adulterated food has to be recalled to protect pets and public health. All stakeholders, including food firms, distributors, and government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) participate in food recall. The objective of this review is to describe the pet food recall procedure from start to finish, and to review class I and II pet food recalls from 1996 to 2008, with a specific focus on those due to chemical contaminants/adulterants.

Information was requested from the FDA by Freedom of Information Act. Only those recalls backed by the FDA scientific review were considered. The legal framework for food recalls in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Chapter 1, Part 7 and in the Food and Drug Administration Amendments Act of 2007, Title X was reviewed. From 1996 to 2008, there were a total of 22 class I and II pet food recalls. Of these, only six (27%) were due to chemical adulterants. The adulterants were aflatoxins, cholecalciferol, methionine, and melamine, and cyanuric acid.

The causes of adulteration included inadequate testing of raw materials for toxins, use of wrong or faulty mixing equipment, and misformulation of raw materials. Overall, pet food manufactured in the USA is safe. Even with shortcomings in the recall process, the incidence of illness associated with pet food adulteration is low. Added changes can only make the system better in the future to safeguard pet and public safety.

You can find the full " A Review of Class I and Class II Pet Food Recalls Involving Chemical Contaminants from 1996 to 2008" study here.

Nutritionally complete diets require highly digestible ingredients that provide adequate nutrients to ensure the health and well-being of the companion animal. Animal by-products have been a major contributor to the growth and expansion of the world's pet food industry.

The objective of this experiment was to use the ileal-cannulated dog to quantify the effects of selected animal by-products, both raw and rendered, on nutrient intake, digestion before the terminal ileum and total tract digestion.

You can find the full "Raw and Rendered Animal By-Products as Ingredients in Dog Diets " study here.

Animal contact is a potential transmission route for campylobacteriosis, and both domestic household pet and petting zoo exposures have been identified as potential sources of exposure.

Research has typically focussed on the prevalence, concentration, and transmission of zoonoses from farm animals to humans, yet there are gaps in our understanding of these factors among animals in contact with the public who don’t live on or visit farms.

This study aims to quantify, through a systematic review and meta-analysis, the prevalence and concentration of Campylobacter carriage in household pets and petting zoo animals. Four databases were accessed for the systematic review (PubMed, CAB direct, ProQuest, and Web of Science) for papers published in English from 1992–2012, and studies were included if they examined the animal population of interest, assessed prevalence or concentration with fecal, hair coat, oral, or urine exposure routes (although only articles that examined fecal routes were found), and if the research was based in Canada, USA, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Studies were reviewed for qualitative synthesis and meta-analysis by two reviewers, compiled into a database, and relevant studies were used to create a weighted mean prevalence value.

There were insufficient data to run a meta-analysis of concentration values, a noted study limitation. The mean prevalence of Campylobacter in petting zoo animals is 6.5% based on 7 studies, and in household pets the mean is 24.7% based on 34 studies. Our estimated concentration values were: 7.65x103cfu/g for petting zoo animals, and 2.9x105cfu/g for household pets.

These results indicate that Campylobacter prevalence and concentration are lower in petting zoo animals compared with household pets and that both of these animal sources have a lower prevalence compared with farm animals that do not come into contact with the public. There is a lack of studies on Campylobacter in petting zoos and/or fair animals in Canada and abroad. Within this literature, knowledge gaps were identified, and include: a lack of concentration data reported in the literature for Campylobacter spp. in animal feces, a distinction between ill and diarrheic pets in the reported studies, noted differences in shedding and concentrations for various subtypes of Campylobacter, and consistent reporting between studies.

You can find the full "A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Campylobacter spp. Prevalence and Concentration in Household Pets and Petting Zoo Animals for Use in Exposure Assessments" study here.

In this study, fecal Escherichia coli isolates (n = 188) from 34 dog–owner pairs and 26 healthy control humans (2 isolates per individual) were tested for susceptibility to 6 antimicrobials and screened for virulence genes. Genetic diversity between canine and owner isolates was evaluated by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).

Canine isolates exhibited significantly different rates of resistance to four and two antimicrobials, compared to control and owner isolates, respectively. Of the genes examined, the prevalence of sfa, hly, and cnf genes in canine isolates were higher than in control isolates, but not than in owner isolates.

These results suggest that characteristics of owner isolates are somewhat similar to canine isolates, compared to isolates from non-dog owners. In addition, PFGE analysis revealed that transfer of E. colibetween owners and their dogs had occurred within 3/34 (8.8%) households. Considering the effects of dog ownership on the population of E. coli isolates from owners, further epidemiological studies are required.

You can find the full "Antimicrobial resistance, virulence profiles, and phylogenetic groups of fecal Escherichia coli isolates: A comparative analysis between dogs and their owners in Japan" study here.

To compare the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) patterns of Salmonella spp. and Escherichia coli in the faeces of pet dogs from volunteer households in Southwestern Ontario, Canada.

E. coli and Salmonella spp. were recovered from 96.4% and 23.2% of dogs, respectively. In total, 515 bacterial isolates from 136 dogs from 83 households were sent for antimicrobial susceptibility testing with 80.4% of isolates being pan-susceptible. The most common resistance pattern was to amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, ampicillin, cefoxitin, ceftiofur and ceftriaxone, present in 13.3% of Salmonella isolates and 1.3% of E. coli isolates. Fifty-eight of the isolates were resistant to two or more drug classes, with 70.7% and 29.3% being E. coli and Salmonella, respectively. Based on multilevel logistic regression, the odds of resistance were greater in E. coli than Salmonella [odds ratio = 3.2; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.22–8.43]. Agreement in resistance between E. coli and Salmonella isolates from the same dog was low [prevalence-adjusted, bias-adjusted kappa (PABAK) = 0.38; 95% CI = 0.30–0.46].

Pet dogs are a potential household source of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella spp. and E. coli. However, extrapolating the epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance in pathogens, like Salmonella, from E. coli should be done with caution.

You can find the full "Comparison of antimicrobial resistance patterns of Salmonella spp. and Escherichia coli recovered from pet dogs from volunteer households in Ontario (2005–06)" study here.

This study was conducted to investigate sources of Yersinia enterocolitica4/O:3 infections in dogs and cats.

Transmission of Y. enterocolitica 4/O:3 to pets via contaminated pork was studied using PFGE with NotI, ApaI and XhoI enzymes. A total of 132 isolates, of which 16 were from cat and dog faeces and 116 from raw pork samples, were recovered in Finland during 1998–99. Cat 1, whose diet consisted mostly of raw pig hearts and kidneys, excreted Y. enterocolitica4/O:3 of genotype G4. This predominant genotype was also found in isolates recovered from the pig heart, liver, kidney, tongue and ear, and minced pork samples. Dog 2, which was fed raw minced pork, excreted Y. enterocolitica of genotype G13. This genotype was also identified in isolates recovered from the pig heart, kidney and tongue, and minced pork samples.

These results show that raw pork can be an important source of Yersinia enterocolitica 4/O:3 infections in dogs and cats.

You can find the full "Transmission of Yersinia enterocolitica 4/O:3 to pets via contaminated pork" study here.

Determine whether dogs that visited human health-care facilities were at greater risk of acquiring certain health-care–associated pathogens, compared with dogs performing animal-assisted interventions in other settings, and to identify specific behaviors of dogs associated with an increased risk of acquiring these pathogens.

96 dogs that visited human health-care facilities and 98 dogs involved in other animal-assisted interventions.

Rates of acquisition of MRSA and C difficile were 4.7 and 2.4 times as high, respectively, among dogs that visited human health-care facilities, compared with rates among dogs involved in other animal-assisted interventions. Among dogs that visited human health-care facilities, those that licked patients or accepted treats during visits were more likely to be positive for MRSA and C difficile than were dogs that did not lick patients or accept treats.

Results suggested that dogs that visited human health-care facilities were at risk of acquiring MRSA and C difficile, particularly when they licked patients or accepted treats during visits.

You can find the full "Incidence of acquisition of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium difficile, and other health-care–associated pathogens by dogs that participate in animal-assisted interventions" study here.

Dogs that participate in animal‐assisted interventions (AAIs), often called ‘therapy dogs’, commonly interact with humans whose immune systems are not functioning optimally. The advisability of feeding raw meat (including poultry) to these animals remains a highly contentious issue, in spite of increasing evidence that raw meat is frequently contaminated with Salmonella.

We set out to determine if consuming raw meat influences the risk of therapy dogs shedding Salmonella and other pathogens. Two hundred healthy therapy dogs from Ontario and Alberta were enrolled. Between May 2005 and November 2006, fecal specimens were collected from each dog every 2 months for 1 year, along with a log of places visited, antimicrobial use within the home, dog health status and diet.

Specimens were cultured for Salmonella, methicillin‐resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin‐resistant enterococci (VRE), extended‐spectrum cephalosporinase (ESC) Escherichia coliand Clostridium difficile. Forty (20%) of the dogs were reported to have been fed raw meat at some point during the year.

The incidence rate of Salmonellashedding in the raw meat‐fed dogs was 0.61 cases/dog‐year, compared with 0.08 cases/dog‐year in dogs that were not fed raw meat (P < 0.001). Controlling for therapy dog group, the repeated measures, and pig ear consumption and diarrhoea in the 2 months prior to specimen submission, dogs that consumed raw meat were significantly more likely to test positive for Salmonellaat least once during the year than dogs that did not eat raw meat [odds ratio (OR) 22.7; 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.1–58.8; P < 0.001].

Specific Salmonella serovars were more common among dogs that consumed raw meat versus those that did not include S. Typhimurium, S. Heidelberg and S. Kentucky. Raw meat consumption was also significantly associated with shedding ESC E. coli (OR 17.2; 95% CI 9.4–32.3). No associations between C. difficile, MRSA or VRE and consumption of raw meat were detected.

We recommend that dogs fed raw meat should be excluded from AAI programmes, particularly when the programmes involve interaction with humans at high risk of infection or adverse sequelae attributable to infection. Furthermore, although AAI dogs may not be representative of the general population of dogs, we also recommend that feeding of raw meat to dogs is to be avoided in homes where immunocompromised people live.

You can find the full "Evaluation of the Risks of Shedding Salmonellae and Other Potential Pathogens by Therapy Dogs Fed Raw Diets in Ontario and Alberta" study here.

Investigate Salmonella enterica infections at a Greyhound breeding facility.

S enterica was recovered from 88 of 133 (66%) samples of all types and from 57 of 61 (93%) fecal samples. Eighty-three (94.3%) of the isolates were serotype Newport, 77 (87.5%) of which had identical resistance phenotypes. Genetic evaluations suggested that several strains of S enterica existed at the facility, but there was a high degree of relatedness among many of the Newport isolates. Multiple strains of Salmonella enterica serotype Newport were recovered from raw meat fed on 1 day.

S enterica infections and environmental contamination were common at this facility. A portion of the Salmonellastrains detected on the premises was likely introduced via raw meat that was the primary dietary constituent. Some strains appeared to be widely disseminated in the population. Feeding meat that had not been cooked properly, particularly meat classified as unfit for human consumption, likely contributed to the infections in these dogs.

You can find the full "Evaluation of the association between feeding raw meat and Salmonella enterica infections at a Greyhound breeding facility" study here.

Serum samples of 113 dogs visiting "outpatient clinics", 52 dogs kept in shelters and 35 animals from a military dog training centre were examined for Toxoplasma gondii specific antibodies using a latex agglutination test.

Significant differences in seroprevalences were found between dogs from the training centre (8.6% of positive results) and the other populations examined (40.7% of positive seroreagents in animals visiting outpatient clinics and 44.2% in the group from shelters, respectively).

Among clinic patients, dogs fed raw meat were significantly more frequently seropositive (65.2%) than those eating only commercial dry feed or cooked meat (25.7%).

No statistically significant differences were noted in males compared to females and in pure breed dogs compared to crossbreed dogs. The antibodies were usually found in low titres under 60 IU/ml (69.6% of positive results). High titres (120-480 IU/ml) were detected in 2 of 3 dogs with clinical toxoplasmosis. In these dogs IFAT T. gondii specific IgM were detected and a favourable response to antiprotozoal treatment was observed.

All the dogs with medium and high titres were given raw meat. Age and the presence of cats did not seem to have any influence on T. gondii seroprevalence. Neospora caninum specific antibodies in low titres ranging from 1:20-1:320 were found in 7 (9.7%) of 72 T. gondii positive seroreagents.

You can find the full "The influence of feeding and maintenance system on occurrence of Toxoplasma gondii infections in dogs." study here.

Mycotoxin contamination in pet food poses a serious health threat to pets, causing an emotional and economical concern to the pet owners. Aflatoxins, ochratoxins, trichothecenes, zearalenone, fumonisins and fusaric acid have been found in the ingredients and final products of pet food, resulting in both acute toxicity and chronic health problems in pets.

Toxicological interaction among mycotoxins as a natural mixture further complicates the issue. The concepts of “risk assessment”, using hazard identification, dose–response assessment, no observable adverse effect level (NOAEL), and lowest observed adverse effect level (LOAEL), should be applied to assess the risk and safety of mycotoxins in pet food, thereby instilling public confidence in the pet food industry.

You can find the full "Mycotoxins and the pet food industry: Toxicological evidence and risk assessment" study here.

Resistance to the extended-spectrum cephalosporins can occur in Salmonella species via the production of extended-spectrum and AmpC β-lactamases. We describe human infections with Salmonella enterica serotype Newport phage type 14 strains resistant to ceftazidime (CAZ) and cefoxitin (FOX) related to the handling of pet treats containing dried beef.

These strains were isolated from five patients in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, during 2002 and were compared to a strain cultured from a commercial pet treat present at the property of one of the patients. The strains were resistant to FOX, CAZ, cefpodoxime, ampicillin, and chloramphenicol; intermediate resistant to ceftriaxone and cefotaxime; and sensitive to the aminoglycosides, ciprofloxacin, cefepime, and imipenem. Isoelectric focusing, multiplex PCR, and sequencing of the amplicons showed that all strains produced the plasmid-encoded AmpC β-lactamase, CMY-2. Restriction analysis of plasmid DNA following transformation demonstrated that blaCMY-2 was encoded on an approximately 140-kb plasmid. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis showed the human and pet treat Salmonella strains to be highly related.

This study is the first to implicate the transfer of multidrug-resistant Salmonella species through the handling of commercial pet treats containing animal products. In addition to documenting the first cases of human infection caused by CMY-2-producing S. enterica serotype Newport strains in Canada, this study illustrates the necessity of rapid and accurate laboratory-based surveillance in the identification of novel types of antimicrobial resistance.

You can find the full "Association between Handling of Pet Treats and Infection with Salmonella enterica Serotype Newport Expressing the AmpC β-Lactamase, CMY-2" study here.

In the summer of 1999, the incidence of Salmonella enterica serotype Infantis infections in Alberta rose dramatically. Subsequent laboratory and epidemiological investigations established that an outbreak of human disease caused by this organism was occurring across Canada and was associated with pet treats for dogs produced from processed pig ears.

Laboratory investigations using phage typing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) established that isolates of Salmonella serotype Infantis from pig ear pet treats and humans exposed to pig ear pet treats comprised a well-defined subset of all isolates analyzed. Of the 53 subtypes ofSalmonella serotype Infantis obtained around the time of the outbreak as defined by PFGE and phage typing, only 6 subtypes were associated with both human infection and isolation from pig ears. Together with information from epidemiological studies, these investigations established pig ear pet treats as the cause of theSalmonella serotype Infantis outbreak.

The results are consistent with a model in which contaminated pig ear pet treats constitute a long-term, continuing vehicle for infection of the human population rather than causing temporally delimited point-source outbreaks. During the course of this outbreak, several otherSalmonella serotypes were also isolated from pet treats, suggesting these products may be an important source of enteric infection in both humans and dogs.

Though isolates ofSalmonella serotypes other thanSalmonella serotype Infantis from pet treats were also subjected to PFGE and phage typing, no link with human disease could be definitively established, and the contribution of pig ear pet treats to human disease remains unclear.

Elimination of bacterial contamination from pet treats is required to reduce the risk of infection from these products.

You can find the full "Characterization of Salmonella Associated with Pig Ear Dog Treats in Canada" study here.

The goal of this blinded study was to help the Center for Veterinary Medicine prioritize potential future pet food–testing efforts. The study also increased the FERN laboratories' screening capabilities for foodborne pathogens in animal feed matrices, since such pathogens may also be a significant health risk to consumers who come into contact with pet foods.

Six U.S. Food and Drug Administration FERN MCAP laboratories analyzed approximately 1056 samples over 2 years. Laboratories tested for Salmonella, Listeria, Escherichia coli O157:H7 enterohemorrhagic E. coli, and Shiga toxin–producing strains of E. coli (STEC).

Dry and semimoist dog and cat foods purchased from local stores were tested during Phase 1. Raw dog and cat foods, exotic animal feed, and jerky-type treats purchased through the Internet were tested in Phase 2. Of the 480 dry and semimoist samples, only 2 tested positive: 1 for Salmonella and 1 for Listeria greyii. However, of the 576 samples analyzed during Phase 2, 66 samples were positive for Listeria (32 of those were Listeria monocytogenes) and 15 samples positive for Salmonella. These pathogens were isolated from raw foods and jerky-type treats, not the exotic animal dry feeds.

This study showed that raw pet foods may harbor food safety pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. Consumers should handle these products carefully, being mindful of the potential risks to human and animal health.

You can find the full "Investigation of Listeria, Salmonella, and Toxigenic Escherichia coli in Various Pet Foods" study here.

In April 2012, Salmonella enterica serotype Infantis was detected in an unopened bag of dry dog food collected during routine retail surveillance. PulseNet, a national bacterial subtyping network, identified humans with Salmonella Infantis infection with the same genetic fingerprint as the dog food sample.

An outbreak investigation identified 53 ill humans infected with the outbreak strain during January 1 to July 5, 2012, in 21 states and 2 provinces in Canada; 20 (38%) were children ≤ 2 years old, and 12 of 37 (32%) were hospitalized. Of 21 ill people who remembered the dog food brand, 12 (57%) reported a brand produced at a plant in Gaston, SC. Traceback investigations also identified that plant. The outbreak strain was isolated from bags of dry dog food and fecal specimens obtained from dogs that lived with ill people and that ate the implicated dry dog food.

The plant was closed temporarily for cleaning and disinfection. Sixteen brands involving > 27,000 metric tons (> 30,000 tons) of dry dog and cat food were recalled. Thirty-one ill dogs linked to recalled products were reported through the FDA consumer complaint system.

A one-health collaborative effort on epidemiological, laboratory, and traceback investigations linked dry dog foods produced at a plant to illnesses in dogs and humans. More efforts are needed to increase awareness among pet owners, health-care professionals, and the pet food industry on the risk of illness in pets and their owners associated with dry pet foods and treats.

You can find the full "Outbreak of Salmonella enterica serotype Infantis infection in humans linked to dry dog food in the United States and Canada, 2012" study here

Human Salmonella infections associated with dry pet food have not been previously reported. We investigated such an outbreak of Salmonella Schwarzengrund and primarily affecting young children.

Seventy-nine case-patients in 21 states were identified; 48% were children aged 2 years or younger. Case-households were significantly more likely than control households to report dog contact (matched odds ratio [mOR]: 3.6) and to have recently purchased manufacturer X brands of dry pet food (mOR: 6.9). Illness among infant case-patients was significantly associated with feeding pets in the kitchen (OR: 4.4). The outbreak strain was isolated from opened bags of dry dog food produced at plant X, fecal specimens from dogs that ate manufacturer X dry dog food, and an environmental sample and unopened bags of dog and cat foods from plant X. More than 23 000 tons of pet foods were recalled. After additional outbreak-linked illnesses were identified during 2008, the company recalled 105 brands of dry pet food and permanently closed plant X.

Dry dog and cat foods manufactured at plant X were linked to human illness for a 3-year period. This outbreak highlights the importance of proper handling and storage of pet foods in the home to prevent human illness, especially among young children.

You can find the full "Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Contaminated Dry Dog and Cat Food, 2006–2008" study here.

Estimates of foodborne illness can be used to direct food safety policy and interventions. We used data from active and passive surveillance and other sources to estimate that each year 31 major pathogens acquired in the United States caused 9.4 million episodes of foodborne illness (90% credible interval [CrI] 6.6–12.7 million), 55,961 hospitalizations (90% CrI 39,534–75,741), and 1,351 deaths (90% CrI 712–2,268).

Most (58%) illnesses were caused by norovirus, followed by nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. (11%), Clostridium perfringens (10%), and Campylobacter spp. (9%). Leading causes of hospitalization were nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. (35%), norovirus (26%), Campylobacter spp. (15%), and Toxoplasma gondii (8%). Leading causes of death were nontyphoidal Salmonella spp. (28%), T. gondii (24%), Listeria monocytogenes (19%), and norovirus (11%).

These estimates cannot be compared with prior (1999) estimates to assess trends because different methods were used. Additional data and more refined methods can improve future estimates.

You can find the full "Foodborne Illness Acquired in the United States—Major Pathogens" study here.

Most pet foods are safe. Only 1.7% of reported poisonings in dogs and cats have been attributed to pet foods.1Incidents of contamination occur through microbial action, mixing error, or intentional adulteration. Although rare, the effects of pet food contamination can be physically devastating for companion animals and emotionally devastating and financially burdensome for their owners.

Whereas most people consume a diet from various sources, for companion animals a single bag of food or cans from a single brand/lot will likely be the major or sole source of nutrition until that food has been completely consumed.

You can find the full "Pet Food Recalls and Pet Food Contaminants in Small Animals" study here.

Determine the prevalence of cross‐species sharing of Escherichia colibetween healthy dogs and humans living in the same household.

Two faecal E. coli isolates from 25 healthy dog‐owner pairs and 16 healthy control humans were tested using three fingerprinting methods. The prevalence of within‐household sharing of E. coli was 4, 8 and 8% using pulsed‐field gel electrophoresis, randomly amplified polymorphic DNA and enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus‐PCR analyses respectively. Within‐household bacterial sharing was more prevalent than across‐household sharing (P < 0·05). According to questionnaire analyses avoiding the dog‐owner behaviours such as allowing a dog to kiss or lick the owner's face, sharing people food with dog and feeding it raw meat may decrease the chance of cross‐species E. coli sharing.

Direct contact between humans and dogs and environmental reservoirs may be important routes for cross‐species sharing of bacteria. Good personal hygiene and appropriate veterinary care for pets can minimize this risk.

Due to the importance of canine pathogenic E. coli reservoir hypothesis, close contacts between humans and dogs raises public health concerns. Determining the rate of cross‐species bacterial sharing and confirm its accuracy by different fingerprinting techniques will help to find ways for reducing the economic impact of E. coli infections. This study support claims that public health concerns regarding the cross‐species sharing of E. coli are warranted but this risk is minimal.
 

You can find the full "DNA fingerprinting approaches to trace Escherichia coli sharing between dogs and owners" study here.

Human salmonellosis occurs mainly as a result of handling or consuming contaminated food products, with a small percentage of cases being related to other, less well-defined exposures, such as contact with companion animals and natural pet treats.

The increasing popularity of raw food diets for companion animals is another potential pet-associated source of Salmonella organisms; however, no confirmed cases of human salmonellosis have been associated with these diets. Pets that consume contaminated pet treats and raw food diets can be colonized with Salmonellaorganisms without exhibiting clinical signs, making them a possible hidden source of contamination in the household.

Pet owners can reduce their risk of acquiring Salmonella organisms by not feeding natural pet treats and raw food diets to their pets, whereas individuals who investigate cases of salmonellosis or interpret surveillance data should be aware of these possible sources of Salmonella organisms.

You can find the full "Human Health Implications of Salmonella-Contaminated Natural Pet Treats and Raw Pet Food" study here.

The Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network (Vet-LIRN), in collaboration with the Food Emergency Response Network (FERN) and its Microbiology Cooperative Agreement Program (MCAP) laboratories, conducted a study to evaluate the prevalence of selected microbial organisms in various types of pet foods.

The goal of this blinded study was to help the Center for Veterinary Medicine prioritize potential future pet food–testing efforts. The study also increased the FERN laboratories' screening capabilities for foodborne pathogens in animal feed matrices, since such pathogens may also be a significant health risk to consumers who come into contact with pet foods.

Six U.S. Food and Drug Administration FERN MCAP laboratories analyzed approximately 1056 samples over 2 years. Laboratories tested for Salmonella, Listeria, Escherichia coli O157:H7 enterohemorrhagic E. coli, and Shiga toxin–producing strains of E. coli (STEC). Dry and semimoist dog and cat foods purchased from local stores were tested during Phase 1. Raw dog and cat foods, exotic animal feed, and jerky-type treats purchased through the Internet were tested in Phase 2. Of the 480 dry and semimoist samples, only 2 tested positive: 1 for Salmonella and 1 for Listeria greyii.

However, of the 576 samples analyzed during Phase 2, 66 samples were positive for Listeria (32 of those were Listeria monocytogenes) and 15 samples positive for Salmonella. These pathogens were isolated from raw foods and jerky-type treats, not the exotic animal dry feeds.

This study showed that raw pet foods may harbor food safety pathogens, such as Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. Consumers should handle these products carefully, being mindful of the potential risks to human and animal health.

You can find the full "Investigation of Listeria, Salmonella, and Toxigenic Escherichia coli in Various Pet Foods" study here.

In recent years, increasing numbers of consumers have become interested in feeding raw food for their pet dogs as opposed to commercial dry food, in the belief of health advantages. However, raw meat and internal organs, possibly contaminated by pathogens such as Campylobacter spp., may pose a risk of transmission of zoonoses to the pet owners. Campylobacter jejuni is the leading cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in humans but C. upsaliensis has also been associated with human disease.

In this study we investigated the effect of different feeding strategies on the prevalence of Campylobacter spp. in Finnish dogs. We further characterized the isolates using multilocus sequence typing (MLST), whole-genome (wg) MLST and antimicrobial susceptibility testing.

Dogs were sampled before and after a feeding period consisting of commercial raw feed or dry pellet feed. Altogether 56% (20/36) of the dogs yielded at least one Campylobacter-positive fecal sample. C. upsaliensis was the major species detected from 39% of the dogs before and 30% after the feeding period. Two C. jejuni isolates were recovered, both from raw-fed dogs after the dietary regimen.

The isolates represented the same genotype (ST-1326), suggesting a common infection source. However, no statistically significant correlation was found between the feeding strategies and Campylobacter spp. carriage. The global genealogy of MLST types of dog and human C. upsaliensis isolates revealed weakly clonal population structure as most STs were widely dispersed.

Major antimicrobial resistance among C. upsaliensis isolates was against streptomycin (STR MIC > 4mg/l). Apart from that, all isolates were highly susceptible against the antimicrobials tested. Mutations were found in the genes rpsL or rpsL and rsmG in streptomycin resistant isolates.

In conclusion, increasing trend to feed dogs with raw meat warrants more studies to evaluate the risk associated with raw feeding of pets in transmission of zoonoses to humans.

You can find the full "Population Genetics and Antimicrobial Susceptibility of Canine Campylobacter Isolates Collected before and after a Raw Feeding Experiment" study here.

The rise of allergy and autoimmune diseases is due to much more than rampant cleanliness. Is it time to throw out the hygiene hypothesis?

Early exposure to microbes has important health effects, leading many researchers to question the value of the “hygiene hypothesis” label.

The whole article "News Feature: Cleaning up the hygiene hypothesis" can be found here.

Campylobacters remain highly important zoonotic pathogens worldwide which infect an estimated 1% of the population of Western Europe each year. Certain campylobacters are also important in infections of animals, particularly of the reproductive tract, and some are involved in periodontal disease.

This paper focuses, however, on the two species which are most important in food-borne infections of humans, Campylobacter (C.) jejuni and C. coli. Infection with these campylobacters is serious in its own right but can also have long-term sequelae such as reactive arthritis and Guillain–Barré syndrome.

The pathogens are ubiquitous in nature and in domestic animals and, as a consequence, are found frequently in the environment and on many raw foods, of both plant and animal origin and bacterial numbers can be very high on certain key foods like raw poultry meat. Although all commercial poultry species can carry campylobacters, the risk is greater from chicken because of the high levels of consumption.

Campylobacters are relatively ‘new’ zoonotic pathogens as routine culture from clinical specimens only became possible in the late 1970s. As a consequence there is much that still needs to be understood about the behaviour and pathogenicity of these highly important bacteria. In particular, and from a food industry/food safety perspective, it is important to better understand the behaviour of C. jejuni and C. coli in the food production environment, and how this affects their ability to survive certain food production processes.

There is a belief that campylobacters are much more sensitive to hostile conditions than either salmonellas or Escherichia coli. Much of data to support this view have been derived from laboratory experiments and may not fully represent the natural situation. Studies are showing that campylobacters may be more robust than previously thought and thus may represent a greater challenge to food safety.

We recommend that research is undertaken to better understand how campylobacters behave in the food chain and how responses to relevant conditions affect their ability to survive processing and their virulence. There is also a need to better understand the reasons why campylobacters are capable of frequent change, particularly in the expression of surface antigens.

You can find the full "Campylobacters as zoonotic pathogens: A food production perspective" study here.

Campylobacter species, particularly thermophilic campylobacters, have emerged as a leading cause of human foodborne gastroenteritis worldwide, with Campylobacter jejuni, Campylobacter coli, and Campylobacter lari responsible for the majority of human infections. Although most cases of campylobacteriosis are self-limiting, campylobacteriosis represents a significant public health burden. Human illness caused by infection with campylobacters has been reported across Canada since the early 1970s. Many studies have shown that dietary sources, including food, particularly raw poultry and other meat products, raw milk, and contaminated water, have contributed to outbreaks of campylobacteriosis in Canada. Campylobacter spp. have also been detected in a wide range of animal and environmental sources, including water, in Canada. The purpose of this article is to review (i) the prevalence of Campylobacter spp. in animals, food, and the environment, and (ii) the relevant testing programs in Canada with a focus on the potential links between campylobacters and human health in Canada.

You can find the PDF of the study "Campylobacter species in animal, food, and environmental sources, and relevant testing programs in Canada" here.

The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the prevalence and antimicrobial resistance patterns of Salmonella isolated from commercially available canine raw food diets in Canada. A total of 166 commercial frozen raw food diet samples were purchased from randomly selected local pet stores in three Canadian cities for a period of 8 months. All samples were evaluated for the presence of Salmonella, serotyped and tested for antimicrobial susceptibility. There was an overall Salmonella prevalence of 21%; chicken was an ingredient for 67% of the Salmonella‐positive diets. Eighteen different Salmonella serotypes were recovered, and resistance was observed to 12 of the 16 antimicrobials tested, with the majority of Ontario isolates exhibiting resistance to ampicillin and Calgary isolates to tetracycline. This study demonstrates the potential risk of raw food diets, especially for immunocompromised individuals, and stresses the need for implementing regulatory guidelines for the production of these diets in order to help control and ideally eliminate the bacterial risks associated with their use and consumption.

You can find the PDF of the study "The Occurrence and Antimicrobial Susceptibility of Salmonellae Isolated from Commercially Available Canine Raw Food Diets in Three Canadian Cities" here.

We report a case of pulmonary cystic echinococcosis in a child from eastern Finland with no history of travelling abroad. The cyst was surgically removed and the organism molecularly identified as Echinococcus canadensisgenotype G10. This parasite is maintained in eastern Finland in a sylvatic life cycle involving wolves and moose; in the present case, the infection was presumably transmitted by hunting dogs.

You can find the PDF of the study "An autochthonous case of cystic echinococcosis in Finland, 2015" here.

Three subgroups of the Finnish cat population underwent investigation for different aspects of feline toxoplasmosis. Blood samples of 445 purebred pet cats and 45 shelter cats were screened for Toxoplasma gondii–specific immunoglobulin G antibodies with a direct agglutination test. The overall seroprevalence was 48.4%; older cats and cats receiving raw meat in their diet were more often seropositive. Fecal samples were obtained from 131 shelters cats; 2 of the cats were found shedding T. gondii–like oocysts, and the oocysts shed by 1 of the 2 were confirmed as T. gondii with polymerase chain reaction. Among 193 cats submitted for necropsy during a 3.5-year period, 6 (3.1%) had been diagnosed with generalized toxoplasmosis and were retrospectively further investigated. The main pathological lesions included acute interstitial pneumonia, acute necrotizing hepatitis, and nonsuppurative meningoencephalitis with glial granulomas. Immunohistochemical staining demonstrated a mild to massive parasite burden in tissues with pathological lesions as well as in unaffected tissues. The results of the direct multilocus genotyping of T. gondiiparasites detected were consistent with endemic genotype II, and the causative parasite strains were isolated from 2 of the generalized toxoplasmosis cases. The results indicate that cats in Finland commonly encounter T. gondii and contribute to the environmental oocyst burden, while the endemic genotype II can also prove fatal to the parasite’s definitive host. Preventing feline T. gondii infections is not only of public health importance but also a welfare issue for the cats themselves.

You can find the PDF of the study "Feline toxoplasmosis in Finland" here.

Coprological examination was used to estimate the prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in stray and domiciled dogs from Botucatu, São Paulo State, Brazil. Risk factors for dog infection were assessed in relation to demographic, husbandry and management data. The dog owners completed a questionnaire survey on some aspects of dog parasitism such as parasite species, mechanisms of infection, awareness of zoonotic diseases and history of anthelmintic usage. Parasites were found in the faeces of 138 dogs, with an overall prevalence of 54.3%. Dogs harbouring one parasite were more common (31.4%) than those harbouring two (18.5%), three (3.2%) or four (1.2%). The following parasites and their respective frequencies were detected: Ancylostoma (37.8%), Giardia (16.9%), Toxocara canis (8.7%), Trichuris vulpis(7.1%), Dipylidium caninum (2.4%), Isospora (3.5%), Cryptosporidium (3.1%) and Sarcocystis (2.7%). Stray dogs were found more likely to be poliparasitized (P < 0.01) and presented higher prevalence of Ancylostoma, T. canis and Giardia(P < 0.01) than domiciled ones. Toxocara canis was detected more frequently in dogs with <6 months of age (P < 0.05) and no effect of sex or breed could be observed (P > 0.05). Except for Ancylostoma, that showed a significantly higher prevalence in dogs living in a multi‐dog household (P < 0.01), parasite prevalences were similar in single‐ and multi‐dog household. The answers of dog owners to the questionnaire showed that the majority does not know the species of dog intestinal parasites, the mechanisms of transmission, the risk factors for zoonotic infections, and specific prophylactic measures. The predominance of zoonotic species in dogs in the studied region, associated with the elevated degree of misinformation of the owners, indicates that the risk of zoonotic infection by canine intestinal parasite may be high, even in one of the most developed regions of Brazil.

You can find the PDF of the study "Prevalence of Dog Intestinal Parasites and Risk Perception of Zoonotic Infection by Dog Owners in São Paulo State, Brazil" here.

In October 2014, a health-care worker who had been part of the treatment team for the first laboratory-confirmed case of Ebola virus disease imported to the United States developed symptoms of Ebola virus disease. A presumptive positive reverse transcription PCR assay result for Ebola virus RNA in a blood sample from the worker was confirmed by the CDC, making this the first documented occurrence of domestic transmission of Ebola virus in the United States. The Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner issued a control order requiring disinfection and decontamination of the health-care worker's residence. This process was delayed until the patient's pet dog (which, having been exposed to a human with Ebola virus disease, potentially posed a public health risk) was removed from the residence. This report describes the movement, quarantine, care, testing, and release of the pet dog, highlighting the interdisciplinary, one-health approach and extensive collaboration and communication across local, county, state, and federal agencies involved in the response.

You can find the PDF of the study "Management of a pet dog after exposure to a human patient with Ebola virus disease" here.