New Science Tackles Antibiotic Resistance and Much More
By Kelley Weir
Have you ever wondered why your doctor insists that you finish your prescription of antibiotics? With all the fuss that we hear in the media about antibiotics becoming less effective and overused, one might assume that quitting your antibiotics when you feel better, instead of taking the whole course, would be better for our bodies.
Not so—for us or for our pets. In fact, the opposite is true, and antibiotics are becoming less effective precisely because people don’t take their full prescriptions or make certain their pets complete their medications.
Germs remaining after incomplete treatment of an infection are more likely to become stronger and more resistant to antibiotics. In fact, recent research suggests that the ability to resist antibiotics may go back 30,000 years, indicating that finding an easy fix for antibiotic resistance will be nearly impossible. That doesn’t mean, though, that scientists won’t keep trying to stop these super bugs from spreading—and Morris Animal Foundation is helping them in their quest.
Stopping transmission of a super bug
One example of a super bug is a staph infection called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). What makes MRSA different from other staph bacteria is that it has built up immunity to the antibiotics doctors usually prescribe to treat staph infections. A MRSA infection can become dangerous when it enters the body and attacks the bloodstream, lungs and urinary tract. This bacterium is not picky and can infect humans and animals alike.
Like most staph infections, MRSA is spread through direct contact and can also be transmitted through environments like households, veterinary clinics and hospitals. It is most commonly spread in group environments, such as locker rooms and animal shelters.
Dr. Meghan Davis, of Johns Hopkins University, suspects that companion animals are at greater risk of contracting the infection if their owners have been diagnosed with a MRSA soft-tissue infection. With funding from Morris Animal Foundation, Dr. Davis will evaluate home environmental contamination, particularly on animal bedding, which may serve as a persistent source of MRSA exposure for animals. The study will try to discover possible interventions to reduce pets’ exposure to MRSA in the household, lowering their risk of developing this painful and potentially fatal infection.
Dr. Davis’s study is one of more than 30 new studies for cats and dogs that Morris Animal Foundation is funding in 2011–2012. Recently, the Foundation published its annual booklet of sponsorship opportunities for companion animals, which includes descriptions of the new and continuing studies that are available for sponsorship.
The new studies are taking place all around the globe, including Argentina, Africa, Australia, Canada and Sweden. They represent the best in animal health research at the top veterinary schools and research institutions in the world. Here are a few examples of the caliber of science that a sponsorship can fund:
- Some Belgian Malinois experience seizures and unpredictable behavioral changes, such as biting, that may have a genetic basis. Because this breed works often in public environments, the issue is of particular concern. A new study will try to determine the genetic mutation responsible, with the goal of developing a genetic test to detect the mutation and help breeders avoid these conditions.
- Cat overpopulation is a welfare concern in some countries and can cause severe social and sanitary problems. A safe and practical birth control method would help control cat populations. A new study will evaluate a hormone that is used in women to induce temporary menopause to see if it will safely and effectively postpone puberty in cats.
- Like humans, dogs and cats can develop breast cancer. Mammary tumors are among the most common cancers in female dogs and cats, and there is an urgent need to understand the genes involved in suppressing these tumors. A new study will evaluate a gene in humans that appears to affect breast tumor development and aggressiveness to see whether the gene behaves in a similar way in dogs and cats.
Studies like these represent the work Morris Animal Foundation funds so that animals can live longer, healthier lives. It is because of your continued interest and support that the Foundation remains the most successful nonprofit organization funding animal health science.
Click here to view the new studies and find more information on how you can help.
Please donate today to help us continue to fund studies for animals.
Posted by MAFon September 30, 2011. Permalink