Zoonotic bacteria and parasites in raw meat-based diets for cats and dogs

23 January 2018

Article: 52/303

Feeding raw meat-based diets (RMBDs) to companion animals has become increasingly popular. Since these diets may be contaminated with bacteria and parasites, they may pose a risk to both animal and human health. A study recently described in the Veterinary Record tested a range of Dutch commercial RMBDs for the presence of zoonotic bacterial and parasitic pathogens, 35 commercial frozen RMBDs from eight different brands being analysed.

As a result, Escherichia coli serotype O157:H7 was isolated from eight products (23%) and extended-spectrum beta-lactamases-producing E. coli in 28 products (80%). Listeria monocytogenes was present in 19 products (54%), other Listeria species in 15 products (43%) and Salmonella species in seven products (20%). The parasites, Sarcocystis cruzi and S. tenella were both found in four products (11% each) while two products (6%) were positive for Toxoplasma gondii

The results of this study demonstrated the presence of potential zoonotic pathogens in frozen RMBDs that might be a possible source of bacterial infections in pet animals and, if transmitted, posing a risk for human beings. Non-frozen products posed the further risk of zoonotic parasitic infections. The researchers considered that awareness should therefore be raised among pet owners concerning the risks associated with feeding their animals RMBDs. They stressed the particular inappropriateness of feeding RMBDs to ‘therapeutic pets’ or pets living in the environment of people with a weakened immune system.

Source: Veterinary Record, 13 January 2018, with related commentary.