An ENOVAT member is interviewed about the antimicrobial resistance issue in companion animals


I am a PhD student at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Lisbon. I do my research at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Animal Health under the Supervision of Professor Constança Pomba, the head of the Antibiotic Resistance Lab. The Idea for this work came from my supervisor, that has been working in the field of antibiotic resistance for a while and was leading a research project, the Pet-Risk consortium ( which main goal was to evaluate sharing of resistant bacteria between animal and humans (namely ESBL). Following this idea, we thought that would be important to evaluate colistin resistance in animals.”

  • What is the background for this study?

With the global spread of multi-drug carbapenem resistant Gram-negative bacteria, colistin is a last-resort antimicrobial to treat ICU patients in hospitals. Thus, WHO has classified Colistin as a Highest Priority Critically Important Antimicrobial for human medicine, therefore, resistance represents a serious concern among physicians and scientists.  Increasing trends and prevalence of colistin resistance have been observed worldwide, and the studies are mainly focused on food-producing animals or hospitalized humans, suggesting an exchange of pathogenic bacteria and/or mobile genetic elements between different reservoirs. The rational for this study is the importance to evaluate colistin resistance in companion animals as they are living in direct contact with humans in the community.

  • What are the main findings? What are the bacteria/antibiotics studied?

We studied a large panel of antimicrobials besides Colistin, and we found evidence of sharing of the mcr-1 colistin resistance gene harbored by the similar multidrug resistant Escherichia coli clone colonizing the GI tract of both a dog with a skin infection and his owner. So, not only we found that our companion animals may harbour this colistin resistance gene (and the prevalence in animals was higher than in humans in our studies in the community), but we also found that they can share this resistance with us and may help the in the spreading of this clinical important bacteria.


Entire interview here.

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