Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP, sometimes misidentified as methicillin-resistant S. intermedius (MRSI)) is an increasing problem in dogs and cats. This highly drug-resistant bacterium is a particularly problem in skin and ear infections, and the number of infected animals appears to be increasing significantly. A related bug, methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) has been a major problem in people for decades, and MRSA is now being found with increasing frequency in animals as well. Sometimes people get confused when they are dealing with methicillin-resistant staph, and it’s important to realize some of the differences between these two related bugs:
- MRSA is a huge problem in people and can be transmitted between animals and people. The role of animals in human disease is unclear, but there is concern that people can develop infections due to contact with infected or colonized animals.
- MRSP is rarely identified as a cause of infection in people. Transmission of MRSP between animals and people has been reported. However, this is much less concerning than with MRSA because people are much less likely to carry, transmit or develop infection from MRSP than MRSA.
- The recommendations that have been made for management of animals with MRSA largely involve improving general household infection control practices. These guidelines are only based on expert opinion (i.e. there are no studies (yet) to back them up), but they are reasonable and practical.
- Even less information is available regarding MRSP, mostly because it’s not considered a major human health issue. That being said, you don’t want to get a multidrug-resistant bacterial infection, even if it’s uncommon. Therefore measures to reduce the risk of transmission of MRSP from pets to people is should still be considered.
- Strict isolation of infected pets is probably excessive. General infection control practices (e.g. handwashing after contact with the animal, avoiding contact with the infected site, limiting contact overall) are probably adequate, especially in households with no high-risk people (e.g. people with weakened immune systems, infants, elderly individuals).
More information on both MRSP and MRSA can be found on the Worms&Germs Resources page.