A SUPERBUG that's being passed from dogs to owners risks becoming untreatable, scientists have warned.
Research revealed the "nightmare scenario" after finding the antibiotic-resistant gene could be transmitted to people, The Telegraph reports.
The mcr-1 gene, first found in China in 2015, can be passed on to humans through sharing a bed with dogs, or via pet basket.
It's resistant to the antibiotic colistin, which is used to treat bacterial infections other drugs can't tackle.
Scientists have warned that overuse of colistin, especially on meat-producing animals, could spark mutant genes that make the drug useless.
Antimicrobial resistance kills around 700,000 people a year and is tipped to kill around 10 million a year by 2050 without further action.
DOG BUG FEARS
The mcr-1 gene lives in the gut and is passed through tiny particles of faeces.
A study by University of Lisbon took samples from 126 healthy people from 80 households who lived with 102 cats and dogs.
Eight dogs and four people were found carrying bacteria including mcr-1.
In two households, the mcr-1 gene was found in the dog and the owner.
The findings of the study were unveiled at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases conference this weekend.
Dr Juliana Menezes, who led the research, said: “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.”
Meanwhile, another Portuguese study has found raw dog food is a primary source of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
University of Porto researchers analysed a range of dog food and found 54 per cent carried the bacteria Enterococci.
Two fifths of cases were resistant to strong antibiotics.
Dr Ana Freitas, who conducted the research, said: “The close contact of humans with dogs and the commercialisation of the studied brands in different countries poses an international public health risk.
“European authorities must raise awareness about the potential health risks when feeding raw diets to pets and the manufacture of dog food, including ingredient selection and hygiene practices, must be reviewed.
“Dog owners should always wash their hands with soap and water right after handling pet food after picking up faeces.”
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