Owner-collected swabs of pets: a method fit for the purpose of zoonoses research

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As part of the preparation of a large cohort study in the entire German population, this study examined the feasibility of cat and dog owners collecting nasal and oral swabs of their animals at home as a method of assessing exposure to zoonoses. In veterinary clinics in Hannover, Germany, 100 pet owners were recruited. Nasal and oral swabs of pets were taken by a veterinarian at the clinic and owners took swabs at home. Swabs were analysed regarding bacterial growth and compared (owner vs. vet) using Cohen's kappa and McNemar's test. The return rate of kits was 92%, and 77% of owners thought it unnecessary to have veterinarian assistance to swab the mouth. McNemar's test results: oral swabs 78% agreement with Gram-positive bacterial growth, 87% agreement with Gram-negative bacterial growth; with similar results for nasal swabs. Although sample quality differed, this method allowed the receipt of swabs from pets in order to obtain information about colonization with zoonotic pathogens.

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