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Since the relationship between dogs and their owners has changed, and dogs moved from being working dogs to family members in post-industrial countries, we hypothesized that zoonotic transmission of opportunistic pathogens like coagulase positive staphylococci (CPS) is likely between dogs and their owners.
CPS- nasal carriage, different aspects of human-to-dog relationship as well as potential interspecies transmission risk factors were investigated by offering nasal swabs and a questionnaire to dog owners (108) and their dogs (108) at a dog show in 2009. S. aureus was found in swabs of 20 (18.5%) humans and two dogs (1.8%), and spa types which correspond to well known human S. aureus lineages dominated (e.g. CC45, CC30 and CC22). Multilocus sequence typing (MLST) of the two canine strains revealed ST72 and ST2065 (single locus variant of ST34). Fifteen dogs (13.9%) and six owners (5.6%) harboured S. pseudintermedius, including one mecA-positive human isolate (MRSP). Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) revealed that one dog/owner pair harboured indistinguishable S. pseudintermedius- isolates of ST33. Ten (48%) of the 21 S. pseudintermedius-isolates showed resistance towards more than one antimicrobial class. 88.9% of the dog owners reported to allow at least one dog into the house, 68.5% allow the dog(s) to rest on the sofa, 39.8% allow their dogs to come onto the bed, 93.5% let them lick their hands and 52.8% let them lick their face. Bivariate analysis of putative risk factors revealed that dog owners who keep more than two dogs have a significantly higher chance of being colonized with S. pseudintermedius than those who keep 1-2 dogs (p<0.05).
In conclusion, CPS transmission between dog owners and their dogs is possible. Further investigation regarding interspecies transmission and the diverse adaptive pathways influencing the epidemiology of CPS (including MRSA and MRSP) in different hosts is needed.