The United Nations issued a warning that the mcr-1 gene, initially identified in 2015, has killed more than 700,000 people per year globally and could rise to 10 million by 2050 if actions aren't taken as it's become increasingly resistant to certain life-saving drugs, the Mirror reports.
Experts at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infections Diseases Conference revealed results from a recent study showing that the spread of mcr-1 may increase due to the gene being distributed between pets and humans, as dogs can hold mcr-1 in their gut before the gene is transferred through microscopic fecal particles.
The study, conducted at the University of Lisbon, showed that the gene was present in both humans and dogs in two households where the pets had tissue infections.
The study used fecal samples from 126 healthy people living with 102 cats and dogs in 80 homes during a two-year span concluding in February 2020, confirming that eight dogs and four humans hosted mcr-1, among other bacteria.
Three of the dogs included in the study appeared to be healthy, while the rest experienced urinary tract infections.
Experts presenting the data at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology said regions that use colistin are less likely to contract the gene.
“Colistin is used when all other antibiotics have failed, it is a crucial treatment of last resort," Dr. Juliana Menezes, who led the study, said via the Mirror. “If bacteria resistant to all drugs acquire this resistance gene, they would become untreatable, and that’s a scenario we must avoid at all costs. We know that the overuse of antibiotics drives resistance and it is vital that they are used responsibly, not just in medicine but also in veterinary medicine and in farming.”