Pets could poison their owners

4 May 2000

Pets could poison their owners

E COLI 0157 bacteria – which cause food poisoning and are usually associated with farm animals – could also be contracted through pets.

Professor Mac Johnson, of the UKs Royal Veterinary College, will tell todays BBC Radio 4 Costing the Earthprogramme he feared there was a hidden danger in the home.

He said: “E coli 0157 is found in animals, particularly in ruminants.

“Were beginning to pick it up in domestic animals, and of course the worry there is how much of a risk this is to humans.

“Domestic animals are very likely to pick up 0157 from the environment. And equally, as it comes out the other end in their droppings, they will be passing it on.

“So anything thats attractive to children, like the tail of a dog, is potentially a source of 0157 for them.

“I dont know why weve had no cases linked with it. I suspect it could be just a matter of time before the link is proven.”

In 1996 the organism caused a food poisoning outbreak in central Scotland which killed 21 people.

Last year about 1000 poisoning cases in England and Wales were caused by 0157. This was the highest figure ever recorded.

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