I’m in London (UK) for the ASM-ESCMID conference on methicillin-resistant staphylococci in animals: veterinary and public health consequences. I’ll provide various updates on interesting presentations over the next few days.

Dr. Armando Hoet from the Ohio State University (OSU) presented data on MRSA screening of dogs admitted to the OSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital. They sampled a subset of dogs admitted to the hospital every month over the course of a year.

  • 5.7% of the dogs were identified as MRSA carriers. That’s a pretty impressive (and concerning) number. We know that a small percentage of dogs and cats in the general population are positive, but I’ve generally assumed the rate of carriage to be around 1-4%. However, you have to consider the study population whenever you look at numbers like this. Sixty-eight percent of the positive dogs were referral cases, meaning they had had previous contact with the veterinary healthcare system, may have been treated previously with antibiotics and may have had other diseases that increased the risk of MRSA.
  • Ownership by people in the human or veterinary healthcare fields were risk factors for infection.  This is not very surprising since such owners would be more likely to pick up MRSA at work and bring it home to infect their pets.

Hopefully the true percentage of dogs in Ohio carrying MRSA is lower than this. Presumably, the rate of MRSA carriage by healthy dogs that are not owned by high-risk people is quite a bit lower. Regardless, it shows that MRSA can be found in a reasonable percentage of animals in the study area (as well as presumably other areas) and that good infection control practices are needed in veterinary hospitals to reduce the risk of transmission.

More information about MRSA can be found in on the Worms & Germs Resources page.