By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – New research shows potentially harmful bugs can be passed on to humans from dogs or cats.

While there’s no lack of love between pets and their owners, veterinarian Constance Pomba said close contact is spreading bugs that may not respond to antibiotics.

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“We have this resistant bacteria in pets and in humans. And they are living together. That’s the bad news” she said.

Researchers at University of Lisbon and London’s Royal Veterinary College screened stool samples of more than 100 healthy people and the cats and dogs that live with them, in Portugal and the UK. In four Portuguese households, resistance genes found in pets matched those seen in their owners. In two of the homes, bacteria in pets were the same e-coli strains that turned up in their owners.

“But then the good news is – this transmission is very low,” said Professor Pomba.

E-coli and other bacteria are common in the intestines of healthy people and animals, and while most are harmless, some can cause serious food poisoning or life-threatening infections.

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Juliana Menezes, a PhD student at the University of Lisbon, has advice for people with pets.

“The main advice is wash your hands like we did with COVID.  Wash your hands after collecting the feces,” Menezes said.

Researchers warn overusing antibiotics in people and pets is also driving up the risk of infection, but say their findings shouldn’t cause alarm.

“Don’t be afraid of having a dog and cat,” said Professor Pomba. “We should be reassured that the transmission is low.”

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With good hygiene, she said, pets and their owners can keep spreading the love. Team