April 15, 2019

UGH: Petting Zoos May Be Chock Full of Superbugs.

Researchers in Israel, including veterinarians, collected samples of poop, skin, fur, and feathers from over 200 animals across 42 species who lived in one of eight petting zoos in the country. They then tested the samples for bacteria resistant to more than one class of antibiotics.

The team was interested in spotting two groups of highly multidrug-resistant bacteria known as extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) Enterobacteriaceae and AmpC-producing Enterobacteriaceae (AmpC-E). These bacteria are some of the most feared superbugs around, largely because they carry mutations that make them resistant to a wide variety of antibiotics. Some of these mutations can also easily be passed to other species of bacteria, through mobile bits of DNA called plasmids.

Even scarier is that many resistant bacteria first evolve in animals and then go on to infect people. These sorts of outbreaks typically originate in livestock, but they’re occasionally caused by cuddlier animals, too. And it’s the infection risk posed by these animals that the researchers, led by Shiri Navon-Venezia, a microbiologist at Ariel University, were hoping to get a grasp on.

Years ago I had a friend who kept a couple of terrariums with scorpions and tarantulas, which we referred to as “R.J.’s No-Petting Zoo.” But apparently not even the goats are all that safe.

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