How did my dog get MRSA? The Ultimate Guide

A pet owner who is a health care provider is colonized with MRSA. Previous decolonization attempts have failed. Should we consider the household pets as a possible source?

  • Yes, this an appropriate situation in which to consider testing the pets. The goal in these situations is to prevent on-going MRSA transmission between humans and between human and animal household members so that colonization can be eradicated in the health care provider.
    • Veterinarians and health care providers should coordinate concurrent testing of all human and animal household members.
    • Two negative cultures (performed a minimum of 7 days apart) are needed to call an animal negative. (Please see screening recommendations below.)
    • If animals test positive, they should be isolated or temporarily removed from the home for 3-4 weeks to eliminate ongoing exchange.
      • Positive animals do not need to be treated for MRSA, as colonization is transient and will likely resolve within approximately 3 weeks.2
      • Temporary caretakers should wash their hands before and after contact with the pet and avoid kissing and cuddling; however, the risk of infection is low.
  • Should I test the pets if a human household member is infected with MRSA?

  • No, in the case of a human MRSA infection, the household pets do not need to be tested.
    • If a test were positive, it would likely reflect transient colonization of the pet and no treatment would be needed.1,2,9
    • If a single test were negative, it would not rule out colonization.
  • An animal patient had MRSA cultured from a surgical wound or deep skin infection. What precautions should my veterinary staff take?

  • Bring patients directly into an exam room when presenting for an appointment and do not allow them to mingle with other clients and their animals.
  • House hospitalized animals with known MRSA infections in an isolation suite or away from other patients with their own dedicated equipment and materials.
  • All staff should wear gloves and gowns when handling and caring for the patient until the animal is cleared of MRSA infection.
  • When performing bandage changes, keep the dirty bandage materials separate from the clean bandage materials. Gloves should be changed in between handling the dirty and clean materials.
    • To prevent cross-contamination, any equipment or unused bandage materials should be discarded or sterilized prior to next use. (Do not return unused or partial rolls of bandage materials to the drawer or cabinet without first autoclaving.)
  • Clean and disinfect (according to disinfectant manufacturer’s instructions) the table, floor and other hand contact areas (door knobs, cabinet handles, faucet handles) in the area where any procedures are performed and/or where the patient was housed during their visit.
  • Hands should be thoroughly washed when interaction with the patient is complete.
  • Staff with skin wounds or who are immunocompromised should not clean patient’s wounds.
  • All precautions (gowns, gloves, prevention of co-mingling, and isolation in hospital) should be taken until the patient’s infection has healed, antibiotics have been discontinued and the patient has had two negative consecutive cultures (see screening recommendations below).
  • These infection control recommendations should be followed for patients with MRSP infections as well.
  • How to get rid of or heal your Dog’s MRSA / Staph bacterial infection ; healed permanently!

    Staphylococcus aureus is a human-host adapted, Gram-positive bacteria commonly found on the skin and in the nasal passages of people. Often considered a commensal organism, it is also an opportunistic pathogen, causing skin and invasive infections. Methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) was first reported in the early 1960s, shortly after the introduction of methicillin. In the late 1970s, MRSA infection rates increased dramatically, mainly occurring in hospitalized patients. In the 1990s, another significant change occurred when MRSA infections acquired in the community among previously healthy individuals were recognized.1 These two sources of MRSA are now referred to as HA-MRSA (health care-associated) and CA-MRSA (community-associated).

    In contrast, S. aureus is not host-adapted to dogs or cats. For this reason, when a pet is colonized with S. aureus, including both methicillin-resistant and methicillin-susceptible strains, the bacteria does not generally persist in the pet for more than a few weeks.2,3 The most frequent commensal Staphylococcus in dogs and cats is S. pseudintermedius, which can also be methicillin-resistant (MRSP). While S. pseudintermedius or MRSP can transiently colonize people, infections are rare.4,5 MRSA and MRSP can be thought of as mirror s, host-adapted to people or pets respectively, but with rare occurrences of colonizing or infecting the other group. Though the focus here is MRSA, infection control recommendations apply equally to minimizing transmission of MRSP within a clinic, and to staff and owners.

    It is important to understand the difference between colonization (carrier) and infection. Both animals and people can be colonized with MRSA, meaning the bacteria is present on skin or in nasal passages, but is not causing infection or disease.6 However, MRSA is also capable of causing infections in people and animals. In people, MRSA most often causes skin and soft tissue infections, sometimes with serious complications.1 In dogs and cats, MRSA is most often associated with skin, wound or surgical site infections, otitis, or urinary tract infections.1,7

    MRSA in dogs and cats is generally acquired from people. The strains found in pets closely match those found in people in that geographic region.7 Colonization rates of MRSA in cats and dogs normally range from 0-4%; however, colonization rates in specific populations may be as high as 7-9%.1 Primary risk factors for MRSA colonization in pets are contact with an MRSA-infected person, repeated courses of antimicrobials, visiting a veterinary facility, surgery, or hospitalization for several days.7,8 Similarly, veterinary personnel have a higher risk of MRSA colonization than the general population.1,7 Current studies have shown a prevalence ranging from 4-18% in veterinary personnel compared to 1-3% in the general population,1 underscoring the importance of good hand hygiene and appropriate use of gloves in the veterinary setting.