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Antimicrobial resistance and the public health impact of feeding raw meat diets to dogs

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  • Full or part time
    Prof NJ Williams
    Dr G Pinchbeck
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

The emergence of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major threat to human and animal health and whilst there are efforts to reduce antimicrobial use in livestock production, there is still evidence of AMR of human health significance, such as extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) producing E. coli in livestock and on meat products. There are concerns that AMR can be transmitted through the consumption of meat, though the risk is substantially reduced when handled appropriately and when meat is cooked. However, another possible transmission route for AMR from livestock to humans is through the handling and feeding of raw meat diets to domestic dogs.
Raw Meat and Bone (RMB) diets for dogs are increasing in popularity in the UK. There are however few data on the frequency of feeding RMB diets and/or the types and sources of such raw meat; the drivers for the increase in raw feeding; and the risks this may pose around exposure to foodborne pathogens and AMR. Dogs and their owners have close and frequent contact, providing opportunity for transmission of pathogens and AMR. Our data on UK dogs has demonstrated that ESBL-producing E. coli were significantly more likely to be detected in faeces of RMB diets fed dogs compared to cooked-meat-fed dogs. Therefore, the aim of this project is to determine: what RMB diets are being fed to dogs, why owners are feeding such diets and what risks this presents for transmission of foodborne pathogens and AMR to dogs and owner households.

The successful candidate will be based at the Leahurst Campus in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health and will be supervised by a multi-disciplinary team and will be embedded in research groups working on bacterial zoonotic pathogens, AMR, veterinary clinical and public health. The project will combine quantitative epidemiology, microbiology, molecular biology and next generation sequencing, providing substantive training in epidemiology, microbiology and molecular biology for the student during their PhD work.

The Institute of Infection and Global Health is fully committed to promoting gender equality in all activities. In recruitment we emphasize the supportive nature of the working environment and the flexible family support that the University provides. The Institute holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of on-going commitment to ensuring that the Athena SWAN principles are embedded in its activities and strategic initiatives.

Informal enquiries to Professor Nicola J Williams on [Email Address Removed]. Applicants should send a CV and a covering letter with then names and contact details of at least 2 referees by email to [Email Address Removed] with a copy to and [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This 3-year PhD studentship would be suitable for a UK or EU graduate with a degree in Veterinary Science, Microbiology or related Biological Science degree, with an interest in AMR. This project is jointly funded by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the University of Liverpool. Funding covers fees, a tax free stipend (starting at £15,000, or enhanced to £20,000 per annum for a veterinary graduate and all research expenses.

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