Recent press headlines such as ‘Hospital superbug MRSA spreads to animals’ (Revill 2003) and ‘MRSA on the rise in UK veterinary clinics’ (Veterinary Times, October 2004) have focused attention on the potential risk of MRSA to companion animal health and also on the role of dogs and cats in the epidemiology of human MRSA infection. During the first half of 2004, the BSAVA Scientific Committee asked one of its members, Dr Tim Nuttall, of the University of Liverpool, to spearhead the preparation of an evidence-based review of current literature on MRSA in dogs and cats.
The review, ‘Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in dogs and cats: an emerging problem?’, by Dr Robert Duquette and Dr Nuttall, was published in the December issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice and provides both historical and current information on the epidemiology of MRSA in dogs and cats and the risk of zoonotic spread. It also provides a scientific basis on which to identify those animals that may be at higher risk of contracting infection, and to underpin any future recommendations on control of MRSA in companion animals. In particular, references are given for barrier nursing methods. Using a treatment strategy relatively novel for dogs, an absorbable gentamicin-impregnated sponge was surgically implanted into the affected joint.
This had the benefit of achieving prolonged high intra-articular concentrations of gentamicin while limiting the requirement for systemic administration to that appropriate for elimination of S. aureus in other sites. This also minimised both the risk of nephrotoxicity and the potential risks of MRSA contact by humans. The treatment was successful. In retrospect, it would have been interesting to know if this dog was indeed carrying MRSA in its nasopharynx and if the owners had previous hospital contact.
March 29, 2005
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