MRSA in pets is now entering the mainstream of veterinary awareness, and if anyone doubts that they only have to look at the comments coming from the BVA during the first couple of weeks of April. In response to a press release from the Bella Moss Foundation, BVHA President Bob Partidge voiced ‘great concern’ and said that the profession had to adopt best practice in operating procedures, followed almost immediately by BVA President-Elect Dr Freda Scott-Parker telling everyone that ‘the alarm being generated is completely unnecessary’. So that’s alright then.
The fundamental differences in these two positions are perhaps more political than clinical. The BVA, being essentially a representative organisation, cannot really be seen to endorse criticism of the profession it represents, and so Scott-Parker’s comments are understandable, but where does that leave the public?
It is common for organisations like the BVA to use a dearth of knowledge or research to justify its inertia (though we have no doubt that such a statement would be challenged), but the likelihood is that what happened to Bella (the ‘High Profile’ case that must not be named) represents not an isolated case but the tip of an iceberg.
We shall not, of course, take Scott-Parker to task for her statement that the ‘circumstances surrounding the death of the dog that has triggered the latest concerns were, to say the least, extremely unusual…’ and ask her what causes her to say that or where it came from. We think it uncharitable to challenge her implication that this has not, and will not, happen to other pets, and we will definitely not attribute to her remarks the simple desire for the issue to go away.
After all, isn’t it true that vets, the people who really know all about animal care, should be allowed to handle things in their own way and in their own time without ignorant pet owners raising uncomfortable issues? The answer to why there has been only one recorded pet death due to MRSA is because no one has been looking. When pets die there is no autopsy, no inquest, no clinical governance, no questions. Owners are reassured (as Jill was) that death is ‘just one of those things, just bad luck, so please accept that and move on.’
The trouble is, many pets are being infected with MRSA, as well as other serious pathogens, during surgical procedures. It’s all very well for the BVA to tell non-vets to shut up by implying that the circumstances of Bella’s death are so unusual that they have no meaning for veterinary practice, but this is to ignore a fundamental reality; changes to the paradigm are not usually accompanied by large signs alerting us to the fact.
PETS-MRSA.COM is not in the business of raising unnecessary alarm, but neither will we accept the bland reassurance that everything is well on planet vet when all the evidence says that this is not so. There is anxiety out there, and sick animals suffering from hospital aquired infections. Pet owners deserve a better response from the leader-elect of the BVA