WHAT THE EXPERTS TOLD US
Professor David Lloyd at the RCV (Author of paper published in The Veterinary Record January 16 1999 'Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections in 11 dogs').
“ MRSA is a growing problem in animals and we do need to take it seriously. Apart from Bella, I only know of a handful of dogs who have had such serious MRSA infections in this country. If the flora of a dog is healthy usually, they can fight it, but if they have underlying health problems or suppressed immune systems, they are more vulnerable. In your case, you and Bella were very unlucky. If the organism Staphylococcus is not picked up quickly, then it can spread through the body like wildfire.
On the subject of hydrotherapy and possible transmission, if pools are not cleaned thoroughly there is some risk, and I know that Bella attended regular hydrotherapy swims at the Royal Veterinary College, but we have extremely high standards.
Our research here at the Royal veterinary College is currently looking at where the bacteria organism found in dogs comes from; it usually is the same as the human strain. It could be a family member who has transmitted to their pets. Perhaps, someone who has been in hospital or works with people who are colonised.
The government are now taking this subject very seriously. I believe Bella Moss’s story is a good way of alerting people to the risks that exist for animals becoming infected with MRSA. People do become hysterical about this subject and need to be informed of the facts.”
Tim Greet, President of The British Veterinary Association (BVA)
“I’m amazed that Bella died in this way, and concerned that it could happen. This is something that needs looking at in more detail and I shall take a personal interest in it.”
Professor Mack Johnston, Professor of Veterinary and Public Health, Royal College Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS)
“The amount of time a dog spends in kennels will affect the likelihood of it becoming colonised or infected, and I do think that the best way of preventing animals from becoming contaminated is to keep them healthy. It seems to me that there is a low level of sophistication amongst some vets performing surgery – some still don’t wear a facemask – and practices should have a systematic programme of swabbing linked to cleaning in order to reduce the risk of any infection. For me, it would be a cause for concern to hear a vet say that there had never been MRSA on his premises and that he didn’t need to take precautions, but there are things that owners, can do. The key is in the overall level of cleanliness in a vet hospital or practice. I find that the best place to look is behind the doors! There is a culture amongst some vets of a la issez fair approach to infection control, and this means animals will continue to become colonised and infected.”
Alistair Gibson, Spokesman for the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA)
“I wouldn’t agree that vets don’t take infection control seriously. I think that there is a very high standard of infection control and expertise in the practices around the country. The guidelines that the BSAVA sets are to a high standard, and although it’s true that these are entirely voluntary at present, we hope that there will be agreement with the Royal College on developing standards that vets will be required to follow.”
Tim Nuttall, Dermatologist, Liverpool Veterinary School
“As far as pets are concerned, we know that the dermatitis that affect dogs is the sign of an underlying disease, and that should be a clear warning to any vet planning surgery to take extra precautions to prevent infection. Staphylococcus Intermedius is the most common Staph carried by dogs and is generally not too difficult to treat, but MRSA in dogs is becoming a very serious concern There appear to be two strains of MRSA that are particularly difficult to treat, and so stopping the infection from occurring in the first place has to be the first priority. Secondly, the artificial material that is put into a joint, during hip replacement for instance, can itself act as a reservoir for bacteria, and this can make any infection even more difficult to treat.
MRSA is usually contracted during surgery through the wound. Auto-infections tend to be very rare.”
Mick Rich, Microbiologist and author of UK research into dogs and MRSA at IDEXX Laboratories
'I believe that we are finding more MRSA isolates in companion animals due to the fact that we are in a better position to detect this in the laboratory. In my laboratory we have both the technology and expertise needed to confirm the presence of this organism. Our published work demonstrates the increased detection of MRSA in companion animals and I hope that ongoing research and collaboration with the relevant organisations will benefit all concerned'.
Professor Gary French, Head of clinical microbiology Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Hospital
“We are doing research into the overuse of antibiotics into humans and animals and how this can lead to increase in MRSA by killing off the protective bacteria that reduces immunity.”
No La Leonard, Microbiologist (author of 'MRSA isolates in five dogs') University Veterinary hospital, Dublin, Telephone: 00353 17167777
“Infection occurs mainly in wound through contamination and often following orthopaedic surgery. There is growing concern in Ireland and England about MRSA in dogs. We have many calls from vets asking us for advice on how to treat possible MRSA in animals. Our research will be published in 2005 it will be based on humonic research (how humans transmit to animals) In Ireland there was a case of five dogs all infected at the same time during a stay in hospital, this is very concerning. There does need to be clear guidelines for vets and staff to know how to deal with serious infections and on barrier nursing techniques. What you and Bella went through should not happen again. Our research will establish more about how dogs become infected.”
Scott Weiss, microbiologist at University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
(Author of paper on MRSA infection and colonisation in small animals and transmission to humans) Telephone: 001 519 824 4120
“ MRSA is an important pathogen in humans and is being increasingly identified in animals. Most MRSA infections in small animals are thought to be of human origin, however transmission between animals and humans is in both directions. Our research has been documented in veterinary clinics and households throughout Canada. MRSA is an important emerging veterinary crisis and persons working in veterinary hospitals need to be educated.” firstname.lastname@example.org