Should I get my pets tested for MRSA?

MRSA not seen as a significant risk for pet owners

Source: Alok Jha
Guardian Life supplement December 18 2003 p3

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA) has been found in 12 animals in Britain, including dogs, cats and a rabbit, by researchers from the Health Protection Agency, London, England. This is not seen as likely to cause significant problems for humans or their pets. MRSA infections generally occur in nursing homes and hospitals, affecting some 7,000 people annually in Britain. The bacteria usually infects through open wounds, and is generally only a problem for people who do not have strong immune systems, such as newborns, the aged, and people who have just had operations. Infections cannot easily be treated with antibiotics.

Microbiologist, Brian Spratt, from Imperial College, England, notes that the strains of MRSA affecting hospital patients tend to differ from those found outside in the community. British Veterinary Association president, Tim Greet, notes that pets can pass on a number of infections to owners, and many of these probably have greater significance than the possibility of catching an MRSA infection from a pet. Washing hands after playing with pets is a sensible precaution, he notes.