A new study indicates that an antibiotic-resistant strain of Escherichia coli — more commonly known as E. coli — is able to be transmitted between dogs and humans.
The study, conducted by a team of researchers based at the University of Helsinki, involved the examination of bacterial samples taken from dogs known to be hosts to rare form of E. coli as well as from humans with which the dogs had been in contact. By comparing genetic sequences found across the bacteria within the samples, the researchers were able to determine that the E. coli observed were closely related. Further, because no other animals in the area in which the study was conducted were known to be hosts to the strain, the researchers deduced that it must have been passed from dog to human or vice versa.
The strain of E. coli at the center of the study is known as New Delhi-metallo-beta-lactamase E. coli or NDM for short. NDM is an enzyme known to increase bacteria’s resistance to many antibiotics, making infection by NDM-equipped bacteria a particularly dangerous affair. NDM is not exclusive to E. coli and can be produced by a number of bacteria that have one of several eponymously named NDM genes.
For more information about the study and its findings, read the published article in the journal Eurosurveillance.