Friday, June 12, 2015

Shared Microbiota of Humans and Their Pets

I recently co-authored a paper from a study in which we examined the microbiota of humans and their pets.  The full text can be seen here:

Abstract -

Background: Staphylococcus aureus and other coagulase-positive staphylococci (CPS) colonize skin and mucous membrane sites and can cause skin and soft tissue infections (SSTIs) in humans and animals. Factors modulating methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) colonization and infection in humans remain unclear, including the role of the greater microbial community and environmental factors such as contact with companion animals. In the context of a parent study evaluating the households of outpatients with community MRSA SSTI, the objectives of this study were 1) to characterize the microbiota that colonizes typical coagulase-positive Staphylococcus spp. carriage sites in humans and their companion pets, 2) to analyze associations between Staphylococcus infection and carriage and the composition and diversity of microbial communities, and 3) to analyze factors that influence sharing of microbiota between pets and humans.

Results:We enrolled 25 households containing 56 pets and 30 humans. Sampling locations were matched to anatomical sites cultured by the parent study for MRSA and other CPS. Bacterial microbiota were characterized by sequencing of 16S ribosomal RNA genes. Household membership was strongly associated with microbial communities, in both humans and pets. Pets were colonized with a greater relative abundance of Proteobacteria, whereas people were colonized with greater relative abundances of Firmicutes and Actinobacteria. We did not detect differences in microbiota associated with MRSA SSTI, or carriage of MRSA, S. aureus or CPS. Humans in households without pets were more similar to each other than humans in pet-owning households, suggesting that companion animals may play a role in microbial transfer. We examined changes in microbiota over a 3-month time period and found that pet staphylococcal carriage sites were more stable than human carriage sites.

Conclusions: We characterized and identified patterns of microbiota sharing and stability between humans and companion animals. While we did not detect associations with MRSA SSTI, or carriage of MRSA, S. aureus or CPS in this small sample size, larger studies are warranted to fully explore how microbial communities may be associated with and contribute to MRSA and/or CPS colonization, infection, and recurrence.



Misic, A. M., M. F. Davis, A. S. Tyldsley, B. P. Hodkinson, P. Tolomeo, B. Hu, I. Nachamkin, E. Lautenbach, D. O. Morris, and E. A. Grice. 2015. The shared microbiota of humans and companion animals as evaluated from Staphylococcus carriage sites. Microbiome 3: 2.
Download publication (PDF file)