Published 11:37, 28 May 2022 at BST
| Last updated 11:37, 28 May 2022 at BST
Dog owners have been warned about sharing their beds with their furry friends due to an 'untreatable bug' doing the rounds.
The mcr-1 gene is thought to be transmitted from animals to humans, with the first case identified in China seven years ago.
The bug is passed on by dogs, who carry it in their gut and transfer is through their fecal matter.
According to a study at the University of Lisbon, in two households where the dogs had infections, both the pet and the owner were found to have the mcr-1 gene.
Researchers also took samples from 126 people in 80 households, who were living with 102 cats and dogs at the time.
Looking at them over a couple of years, they found that eight of the dogs and four humans were harbouring bacteria, including the mcr-1 gene.
Experts have warned dog owners about sleeping with their pets. Credit: Alamy
Three of the dogs, however, were perfectly healthy, while the rest had tissue or urinary tract infections (UTIs).
Speaking about the findings at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Conference, experts said countries, particularly in southern Europe, that used colistin were less likely to contract the mcr-1 gene.
Dr Juliana Menezes, who led the research, said: "Colistin is used when all other antibiotics have failed, it is a crucial treatment of last resort.
"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."
This comes as concerns were raised over the future of drug-resistant illnesses, which experts believe post a huge risk to humans.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is one of the biggest threats we face, alongside food security and the development of illnesses such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.
If nothing is done, the UN has warned that drug-resistant conditions could kill 10 million a year by 2050.
Research carried out by Flinders University looked into bacterial cells and how they adapt and resist antimicrobial medications.
Dr Sarah Giles said something needs to be done to protect people in the years to come.
She said: "Around the world, there are fewer and fewer new antibiotics being identified and produced for medical use – and this is compounded by the ever-increasing antibiotic resistance seen in bacterial strains causing infections.
"If we can understand the bacterial mechanisms, such as this, we can potentially apply new therapies to treat patients – particularly those with multi-drug-resistant bacterial infections."
Featured Image Credit: Alamy