Vets urged to wear masks
Dog owners are being told not to panic over fears relating to MRSA in pets. The president-elect of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), Dr Freda Scott-Park, is appealing to people to remain calm, stating that the incidence of MRSA in pets is "very, very low", although she also urged vets to take precautions to prevent a rise in the number of cases.
Dr Scott-Park said: "Current scientific evidence supports the opinion that the risk of pet-transmitted MRSA is small and that owners who undertake hygienic precautions are at minimal risk. MRSA does not normally harm healthy people." Despite this the BVA has provided vets with detailed information about the potential dangers of MRSA.
She said: "We are urging vets to adopt best practice and take precautions - by using sterile gloves, masks and scrub suits during operations - to prevent animals getting the organism."
But according to Jill Moss of The Bella Moss Foundation Charity, whose Samoyed Bella was the first dog recorded as dying from the disease in the UK, merely urging vets to take better precautions does not go far enough.
She said: "Yes, there is no need to panic - most healthy people and pets will not become infected - but this does not mean we should ignore the dangers of cross-contamination. If we don't address this issue now we could see levels rising in a few years."
The charity, which is campaigning for changes in veterinary practices as well as offering support to pet owners, believes all vets should work under sterile conditions including gowning, capping and masking up for all surgical procedures. She added: "We believe it should be mandatory and that is what we are campaigning for.
If the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and Defra introduced mandatory enforceable guidelines of infection control standards then what happened to Bella would be prevented from happening to another dog."