Home Health news Warning over ‘blinding’ dog infection that could spread to humans – as two pets in New Jersey contract bug that is resistant to drugs

Warning over ‘blinding’ dog infection that could spread to humans – as two pets in New Jersey contract bug that is resistant to drugs

by Editor

Dog owners are being warned about a drug-resistant bacterial infection in pets that could spread to humans and cause blindness. 

The concerns have been sparked by reports of the bug detected in the lungs and ears two dogs in New Jersey, who were brought to the vet suffering a cough and hearing problems.

But both were infected with the same antibiotic-resistant bacteria that infiltrated popular eye drops, killing four people and blinding 14 last year.

The bacteria is able to ‘melt’ the fibres of the outer eye, causing sight loss — as well as travel to the bloodstream, where it can potentially cause the fatal condition sepsis.

As previous studies have found the infection can travel from human to animal, experts say it is possible for the bug to transfer the other way around. 

The dogs were found to be infected with a 'highly genetically similar' bacteria to that which had caused the outbreak among humans (stock)

The dogs were found to be infected with a ‘highly genetically similar’ bacteria to that which had caused the outbreak among humans (stock)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 81 people in 18 states were diagnosed with infections from the bacteria in EzriCare, which has caused four deaths and 14 people to lose their vision. Another four have had their eyeballs removed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 81 people in 18 states were diagnosed with infections from the bacteria in EzriCare, which has caused four deaths and 14 people to lose their vision. Another four have had their eyeballs removed

‘Fortunately, the owners were not immune compromised, but we did alert them to the fact that there could be potential transmission to them,’ said Dr Emma Price, a veterinarian at the CDC who led the report. 

‘And [we told them to] ideally keep the dogs away from other dogs in the future, which we understand is a difficult thing to do.’

The eyedrops which caused infections in 81 people were found to be contaminated with the bacteria P. aeruginosa, which can trigger a serious infection.

Tests on the dogs showed they were also infected with P.aeruginosa – a strain ‘highly genetically similar’ to that in humans.

These germs are especially worrying to health experts because they are resistant to carbapenem antibiotics – a class of drugs used to treat a myriad of infections when other antibiotics don’t work.

This make the bacteria especially difficult to destroy, and runs to risk of spreading resistance genes to other pathogens. 

Dr Price told CBS News: ‘So, now that this bacteria has been introduced into the US from artificial tears, this resistance could spread.’

It was not clear where the animals had picked up the strain, with owners saying they had not used the infected eyedrops or traveled internationally since before the outbreak.

Researchers presented data on the animal infections at a conference run by the Epidemic Intelligence Service last week.  

They suggested it was likely they had caught the infection either through exposure to contaminated products or improper sterilization of vet equipment.

Dogs do at times spread bacterial infections to humans, normally via licks on open wounds or via contact with the feces or urine of infected animals.

Previous cases include Wisconsin local Greg Manteufel, 48, who had his legs and hands amputated after saliva from his dog led to a rare blood infection.

In another case, reported in Australia, 53-year-old mother-of-two Tracy Ridout died a few weeks after contracting bacteria from a ‘playful nip’ she got from a friend’s German Shepherd.

In both cases, the patients suffered from an infection with capnocytophaga — a germ often found in dogs’ mouths.

Doctors say those who are immunocompromised, including people who have type 2 diabetes or are obese, are at higher risk of infection from their pets.

Doctors are continuously raising the alarm over antibiotic resistant in bacteria because it threatens to make currently treatable diseases dangerous again.

Bacteria able to resist antibiotics can both survive the treatments and transfer the genes conferring resistance to other bacteria, compounding the problem.

More than 2.8million antibiotic-resistant infections occur every year in the US, a number that scientists fear will only continue to rise. 

The killer eyedrop outbreak was linked to the brands EzriCare and Delsam Pharma-branded drops that were manufactured in India.

At the factory, workers had failed to correctly control against infections — which had led to the bacteria getting into the eye drops.

Testing revealed that unopened bottles were crawling with the bacteria, while an investigation found factories had dirty equipment and did not use sterilization gowns.

Among those infected across 18 states was firefighter Adam Di Sarro who was left blind in one eye by the eye drops.

‘[My infection] just progressively got worse,’ he said, ‘to the point where I couldn’t even see within a few hours’.

‘[Losing one eye] was hard and still is hard, because I’m still not at work — going on five months.’

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