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Living with cat and dog increases vaginal colonization with E. coli in pregnant women

Background: Furred pets in the household are known reservoirs for pathogenic bacteria, but it is not known if transmission of bacteria between pet and owner leads to significantly increased rate of infections. We studied whether cats and dogs living in the household of pregnant women affect the commensal vaginal flora, and furthermore the need for oral antibiotics and rate of urinary tract infections during pregnancy. Methods: The novel unselected Copenhagen Prospective Study on Asthma in Childhood (COPSAC2010) pregnancy cohort of 709 women participated in this analysis. Detailed information on pet exposure, oral antibiotic prescriptions filled at pharmacy and urinary tract infection during pregnancy was obtained and verified prospectively during clinic visits. Vaginal cultures were obtained at pregnancy week 36. Results: Women, who had cat or dog in the home during pregnancy, had a different vaginal flora, in particular with increased Escherichia coli (E. coli) colonization; odds ratio after adjustment for lifestyle confounders and antibiotics 2.20, 95% CI, [1.27–3.80], P = 0.005. 43% of women living with cat and/or dog in the home used oral antibiotics compared to 33% of women with no cat or dog; adjusted odds ratio 1.51, 95% CI, [1.08–2.12], P = 0.016. Women living with cat had increased frequency of self-reported urinary tract infection; adjusted odds ratio 1.57, 95% CI, [1.02–2.43], P = 0.042. Conclusions: The increased vaginal E. coli colonization in women living with cat or dog suggests a clinically important transmission of pathogenic bacteria from pet to owner substantiated by increased rate of antibiotic use and urinary tract infections which, which is of particular concern during pregnancy.

Author: Stokholm J, Schjørring S, Pedersen L, Bischoff AL, Følsgaard N, Carson CG, Chawes B, Bønnelykke K, Mølgaard A, Krogfelt KA, Bisgaard H

Citation: PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e46226. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046226. Epub 2012 Sep 25.

Published: 01/01/2012

Publication Type: Journal article

Publisher: PLoS one