Benefits of having a dog or a cat as a pet varies between owners according to the purpose, however, the limit between benefit and harm is sensitive because close contact between pets and humans may involuntarily represent harm for humans. Dogs and cats have been proposed as a possible reservoir of virulent Escherichia coli strains that may cause enteric and extra-intestinal infections in humans. In this study, we aimed to detect diarrheagenic Escherichia coli (DEC) in dogs and cats and their antibiotic resistant pattern(s). Samples were collected from 70 dogs and cats from different veterinary clinics and hospitals in Alexandria. These animals suffered from diarrhea and other symptoms as fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, loss of appetite, muscle aches and bloating. Forty E. coli isolates were detected by culturing and biochemical tests, and were subjected to antimicrobial disc diffusion susceptibility test by using 10 different antibiotic discs, which are the most commonly used in pet animal clinics. Antibiotic resistance for individual antibiotics ranged from 5 to 98% with multiple resistances to 2 or more antibiotics detected in 15 (21%) samples. PCR for detection of virulent genes of E. coli; VT2e and eaeA genes as well as the antibiotic resistance blaTEM gene was performed. The VT2e and eaeA genes were found in E. coli isolates, from dogs and cats. These results collectively indicate that pet animals can harbor the Enteropathogenic (EPEC) and Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) causing diarrhea at different ages with possible active transmission to contact human. Further, the high and multiple antibiotic resistance level can pose therapeutic challenges in contact humans. It is fundamental that veterinarians recommend preventive measures to pet owners towards the establishment of a long-term preventive programme against antibiotic resistant E. coli.
E. coli, dogs, cats, Egypt