Link: Life Style Extra.
An actress who lost her beloved dog to MRSA has been "swamped" by emails from pet owners around the world after launching a campaign to warn animal lovers of the dangers that lurk in veterinary surgeries.
Jill Moss, who has starred in EastEnders and The Bill, launched the campaign after her ten year-old Samoid Bella died a "slow, undignified and brutal" death in August last year.
The distraught actress, whose stage name is Jill Saint James, told how:
* Her dog caught MRSA while going under the knife at her local vet Medivet in Hendon, north Lonfon.
* She was forced to nurse Bella at the clinic on her own after staff refused to treat her offering only to give treatment advice, such as changing an IV drip, via mobile phone from the next room.
* She caught a strain of the superbug herself while she nursed Bella at the clinic.
Moss, 34 of Edgware, said Bella was the first dog known to have died from the human strain of the bug - MRSA 15 - but added: "Animals don't normally have a post mortem so we do not know how many animals have really been infected.
"I have launched the Bella Moss Foundation to clean up veterinary clinics so that this never has to happen again.
"Since we launched the campaign we have been swamped with calls from people from all over the world saying their pets had caught MRSA which had been diagnosed at specialist hospitals but had been contracted at vets.
"We have really opened a can of worms and blown a hole in the veterinary world.
"Through the campaign we want to introduce enforceable standards of infection control at all veterinary clinics.
"We want efficient cleaning and vets to be wearing gloves and masks."
Describing the events that led to Bella's death Ms Moss said: "Bella pulled a ligament while she was chasing a squirrel. I took her to Medivet where she underwent a very routine operation.
"But after the operation she became very ill. She is normally a very lively dog but she was just comatose. The vet visited her several times but said it was post operative pain.
"Things took a turn for the worse when Bella's wound burst open. I took her to an orthopaedic animal hospital where they told me her wound was contaminated with MRSA 15 - the human strain and the most virulent strain. They told me she could only have contracted this through surgery. I have microbiology reports to back this up.
"But Bella continued to go down hill after the surgery so I called the owner of Medivet who told me his father had died of MRSA and to bring her in.
"When I got there he had left to go on holiday. They began tending Bella without gloves and when I said they should glove up because she had MRSA they stopped in their tracks. I realised they had not been told.
"They put us in this room and told me I had to nurse her myself and that they would give me advice on changing IV drips and giving injections via cellphone from another room. They didn't want to be anywhere near us.
"I had to get a friend to bring me food and clothing. For three days I watched Bella die a slow, undignified and brutal death. Eventually the owner of the clinic provided me with a locum who said Bella was suffering organ failure. She was drowning in her own fluids and that it was kinder to put her down."
Ms Moss added that ten minutes after Bella died on August 23 she was asked to sign an insurance form.
She went on: "They asked me to sign a form so they would be paid for the days that I have nursed Bella in the clinic and her surgery. I had already used up my £10,000 insurance quota for that year in the specialist treatment and I sure wasn't going to pay these people for killing my dog. They can sue me."
To compound matters Ms Moss was diagnosed with MRSA, though a different strain to Bella's.
She said: "I believe I picked up the bug through a cut on my foot when I was walking barefoot around the surgery tending Bella. I was very ill."
Ms Moss, who lost her partner in a plane crash five years ago, said she had been devastated by Bella's "unnecessary" death".
"I don't have any kids and I lost my partner in a plane crash. Bella was my world. When she died I died inside. She died an unnecessary death. I have her ashes in my living room and every time I look at them I am even more determined that this cannot happen to anyone else."