Pet bites can cause potentially fatal MRSA infection
Pet owners are at an increased risk of getting infected with the potentially fatal MRSA infection through dogs and cats, say researchers.
Dr. Richard Oehler, of the University of South Florida, says that MRSA and skin infections in dogs and cats can be spread to humans through bites.
While boys aged five to nine are at risk of dog bites the most, cat bites are more common in women and the elderly.
They usually cause deeper puncture wounds than dogs, and carry a higher risk of infection and soft-tissue abscesses.
Almost 20 pct of the bites lead to severe infections, caused by bacteria in the animal’s mouth, plus other infectious agents from the person’s skin.
“As community-acquired strains of MRSA increase in prevalence, a growing body of clinical evidence has documented MRSA colonisation in domestic animals, often implying direct infection from their human owners,” the BBC quoted Oehler as saying
“MRSA colonisation has been documented in companion animals such as horses, dogs, and cats and these animals have been viewed as potential reservoirs of infection.
“MRSA-related skin infections of pets seem to occur in various manifestations and can be easily spread to owners.”
However, any MRSA infection acquired from pets is treated with medication, as normal MRSA infections.
“Pet owners are often unaware of the potential for transmission of life-threatening pathogens from their canine and feline companions,” said the researchers.
“Clinicians must continue to promote loving pet ownership, take an adequate pet history, and be aware that associated diseases are preventable via recognition, education and simple precautions,” they added.
Prof. Enright, from Imperial College London, said: “MRSA might be on a person’s skin and, as they get bitten, it goes inside. This is probably a marginal problem. It may be of more significance in the US where community-acquired MRSA is more of an issue.”