Companion Animals: A carrier for AMR pathogens?

November 8, 2023

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a significant global public health issue, and it’s developing in human pathogens faster than novel antibiotics can be formulated. However, human pathogens aren’t the only cause for concern. AMR pathogens can be present in food-producing animals and companion animals. In fact, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections are far more likely to occur in our pets than our friendly farm animals.

Untreatable bacterial infections in companion animals are not just a serious risk to the health and life of the animals – they are a risk to us, too. A 2014 microbiology study found that within households, humans and pets readily exchange and share the clinically significant pathogen, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). It doesn’t stop with MRSA. Companion animals may serve as carriers for other significant human pathogens, including mcr-1-producing colistin-resistant E. coliSalmonella species and other drug-resistant Gram-negative bacteria. While the risk of getting a life-threatening AMR infection from Fido or Fluffy is relatively low, these untreatable infections still threaten the lives of our pets.

To address the threat of AMR in the United States, the U.S. federal government created a strategy that incorporates work from the Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A major part of this effort is extensive surveillance for AMR at several levels through the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). Though NARMS monitors AMR trends in food-producing animals, it does not track AMR in companion animals, leaving veterinarians and veterinarian hospitals to fend for themselves.

While a need for a national AMR surveillance program in the United States for companion animals remains, those in veterinary medicine have started to more carefully consider antimicrobial stewardship – making sure that our pets are getting only the antimicrobials they need instead of broad-spectrum treatment. A crucial part of minimizing the threat of AMR in our pets is clinical microbiology surveillance that’s focused on identifying drug-resistant organisms. By following the steps taken by NARMS, veterinary professionals at all levels of care can easily create their own AMR monitoring program, ensuring that Fido, Spot and all other pets are properly treated and safe from the threat of a resistant infection.

If bacteria are found in animal patients, veterinary professionals can determine whether they harbor AMR through a simple qPCR test with Streck ARM-D® Kits. These kits can identify over 1,000 AMR gene variants from 26 gene target families and are compatible with most 4-channel PCR systems, allowing you to integrate comprehensive AMR surveillance into your program with ease.

Streck ARM-D Kit ß-Lactamase

Streck’s comprehensive ARM-D® Kits test for the presence of genes encoding carbapenemases, extended-spectrum β-lactamases, plasmid-mediated ampC and other emerging threats. With ARM-D Kits, you can improve antibiotic resistance surveillance, aid antibiotic stewardship programs and support infection control programs.

Streck ARM-D Kits are for Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.


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