February 23, 2008 / 1:07 AM / 10 years ago

Urinary tract infections may come from pets

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Picking up an E. coli bug from your pet might lead to a urinary tract infection, according to Minneapolis-based researchers.

“Sharing of E. coli strains among humans and pets within a household, including strains that can cause urinary tract infections, is extremely common,” Dr. James R. Johnson told Reuters Health.

Harboring the same strain of the bug implies that it is passed from one person or animal to another.

Johnson and his colleagues at the University of Minnesota investigated the extent to which E. coli strains were shared between humans and pets in 63 households. They identified 152 people, 48 dogs, 26 cats, and 2 other animals that had stool samples that tested positive for E. coli. Five of the humans had an acute urinary tract infection.

In the Journal of Infectious Diseases, the researchers report that the same strain of E. coli was shared by several of the inhabitants within a household in 68 percent of the domiciles. That included three of the five households in which one person had a urinary tract infection.

Given the high rate of E. coli strain sharing, Johnson concluded: “If future research shows that this process increases the risk of urinary tract infection for household members, this could lead to new options for preventing such infections.”

SOURCE: Journal of Infectious Diseases, January 15, 2008.

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