MRSA For Pet Owners


Here is a medical article about MRSA from Dr. Edward Wu, a contributing writer for Itchmo:

MRSA for Pet-Owners
Edward C. Wu, MD

With all the recent headlines regarding methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), it is hard *not* to talk about this ubiquitous bacteria.

Physicians have known about MRSA for ages. When I went to medical school, people who were found to have MRSA were put in hospital isolation rooms, and you were careful to glove-and-gown up before going to check in on them. Health care providers were put on high alert regarding these patients.

Nowadays, this infection is more commonplace — accounting for 30-40% of Staph infections. As a result, MRSA does not have that special aura around it. It is now an omnipresent bacteria. Hospitals still put these patients on “contact precautions,” but these patients do not necessarily need an isolation room.

What’s so bad about MRSA? Staph infections used to be easily treatable with penicillin-based drugs. This is still the case, unless you have MRSA. MRSA cannot be treated by penicillin-based antibiotics. It requires powerful antibiotics, and you may need to stay in the hospital. Unfortunately, the research and development of antibiotics is slow, and pharmaceutical companies do not make that much money from them. As a result, we have limited treatment options for MRSA.

MRSA exists in many different forms. The most common types are either a MRSA pneumonia or a MRSA skin infection. Pneumonias typically require a hospital stay and intravenous antibiotics. MRSA skin infections can happen to anyone who has a break in the skin (like a small cut or wound) and gets MRSA in the skin.

Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of MRSA. It is also suggested that individuals avoid sharing razors and avoid touching any open wound.

What does this mean for pet owners? Since pets can also carry Staph aureus, we must also be vigilant for pet bites and pet scratches. Wash any pet bites or scratches thoroughly, and seek medical attention if the wound is deep, dirty, or if the bite causes a large degree of redness.

A doctor may give you an antibiotic for a skin infection. If the redness does not start improving within a day or two, you should return to the doctor and discuss the possibility of MRSA.

Photo: Emergency Vets

3 Responses to “MRSA For Pet Owners”

  1. Stefani says:

    Thank you for covering this.

    People interested in this topic should visit the Bella Moss Foundation, at

    The Bella Moss Foundation was started in memory of Bella Moss by Jill Moss. Bella contracted MRSA at the vets, and subsequently died of it. More on the story of Bella is at:

    I have also met a woman in the US whose dog contracted MRSA at the vets after what she believes was very poor post surgical care and inadequate diagnosis of the infection that had set in. When I met her the dog was still suffering the effects of this.

    Stefani Olsen
    The Toonces Project
    “Is Your Pet Safe at the Vet?”

  2. Carolyn & Maggie says:

    Very informative article. Many thanks.

  3. andie says:

    my dog was diagnosed with mrsa in julyb 07. he is now cured. i have to take exception with the above article in part. it mentions pet woners having to be vigilant anout bites and scratches, which is certainly true. but it is aslo true that the animals who have mrsa got from a person, since it is the human strain that has been infecting them. and yes, the bella moss foundation has the most trustworthy information.

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