LBC Radio Wednesday October 20th 2004 8.45am. Nick Farrari Programme
NF: Now we have talked many times about the problems of MRSA and the devastation that it has brought on families, the problems it creates on our hospital wards, it costs billions and the NHS still can’t combat it. More importantly than that it also costs thousands of lives, thousands of humans lives that is, up until now, when it has been proven that MRSA can transfer to domestic pets Jill Moss is founder of the website www.pets-mrsa.com don’t worry if you didn’t get it, I will give you the address again after we speak with Jill. Jill, tell the listeners how you found out about MRSA transferring from humans to animals?
JM: My own dog Bella injured her leg and went into the vets for routine surgery. She didn’t recover and it was later discovered that she had MRSA bacteria inside the joint of her knee, which I believe she got during surgery. By the time this was detected it had spread through her body and took her life.
NF: It was surgery on a cruciate ligament wasn’t it? She was chasing another animal or something?
JM: She was chasing a squirrel like dogs do everyday. She had to have this routine surgery and was contaminated with the bacteria. Once it gets into a wound it breeds through the body if it can’t be caught in time. She died prematurely and I was confined in a room with her. The last few hours of her life was hell, with nurses refusing to treat her because she had this infection that they didn’t want to come into contact with.
NF: Hang on, so the same canine MRSA could become human MRSA?
JM: There are two strains; there is MRSI, which is very common in dogs and can be successfully treated with antibiotics, but Bella had the human strain which is MRSA. I need to make this clear; the transmission comes from humans to animals and not the other way around.
NF: So it’s only one-way traffic? JM: It is at the moment. The research shows that it is human colonisation taking the bacteria into veterinary practices.
NF: So why were the nurses so leery to attend to Bella?
JM: She was contaminated with MRSA. In her last few hours, she needed a lot of nursing, and their attitude was that they could not be exposed to it. One particular nurse told me that she had a child with a suppressed auto-immune system, and I was literally left alone confined in a room nursing Bella myself.
NF: Even though, there is no way that, at this time, humans can contract it from canines. That was the nurses reaction?
JM: Nick, it’s lack of knowledge. That’s why my website is to inform and alert owners to the risks of MRSA in animals. Not to panic; it’s not a question of animals bringing it to humans, but the risk is we, humans, taking it into veterinary premises. The website is also there to educate vets and make them a little bit more aware of what can be done to prevent animals dying and suffering in the way that Bella did.
NF: what age was Bella?
JM: She was ten, but a fit bird for ten!
NF: So that we have a picture of Bella, what sort of dog was she?
JM: Beautiful white Samoyed. If you don’t know what that breed is – it is a white dog that comes from the Arctic Circle. Looks like a polar bear.
NF: Oh, she must have been such a part of your life.
JM: Yes, she was. I know that you have dogs Nick
NF: I do, unfortunately I lost a dog last year, I had a Spinoney, you probably haven’t heard of this, which is an Italian breed. I also have a golden retriever who is eleven, he is absolutely part of the family life, and so I know how important they are.
JM: So when you take your dog out for a walk, and they chase a squirrel, you don’t expect them to die.
NF: So the dog contracted this through an instrument or something that occurred in the vet’s. What guidelines should there be. What should vets be doing?
JM: Oh, Nick, there are so many, and I won’t have time to go into detail on your programme. I suggest that people do visit the website to see more on this subject and get all the up-to-date information. The most important thing to do if your animal is going in for surgery, any surgery, talk to the vet, ask them have they ever had a case of MRSA? Do they have infection control policies in place?, Do they employ barrier nursing techniques? Look behind the doors, and on the floor – see how dirty or clean are the premises. That’s an important one. And, question the vet taking care of your animal. Don’t allow animals to be over-prescribed with antibiotics; this reduces their immune system. And make sure your vet is aware and up to date with infection control standards, because these are voluntary; they are not compulsory and each different vet can choose whether to adopt them or not, they really do need to become compulsory.
NF: I tell you what – Jill, out of your personal sadness clearly a campaign has emerged. Credit to you for doing all that you have done. I am going to give that website address out again. Jill Moss, thank you for your time and good luck with the website. Good luck and I hope that you recover from losing Bella. I know how key animals are to us. Gosh, that website address and this is so important, once again is www.pets-mrsa.com. I know that some of you listening right now, right now, will be taking your animals to vets at some point this week, you want to make a note of this website. (Repeat address). All of what Jill spoke about, the guidlines for vets are spelt out on www.pets-mrsa.com. I will do it again (repeat address again). Jill Moss is the founder, thanks for your time.