Click below to view this article which highlighted recent activity by Defra in response to challenges surrounding pets & MRSA
Daily Mail, Monday, August 15
Could you get MRSA bug from Your pet?
Inquiry after scientists claim hundreds of animals have been infected: By Beth Hale
MINISTERS have launched an inquiry into the spread of-MRSA to animals following reports of a sharp rise in the number of pets infected. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has set up a committee to investigate the extent to which the deadly superbug has infiltrated vets' surgeries.
There are fears that the antibioticresistant infection could be transferred between pets and their owners - or even enter the food chain if livestock are carrying the bug. MRSA - methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus - is carried harmlessly by one in three humans but can prove fatal in the elderly, newborn babies and those with a weakened immune system. About 5,000 hospital patients die from it every year.
The bug was first documented in an animal in 1999 but the extent to which it has spread is unclear. Small-scale studies have suggested that up to 10 per cent of dogs carry MRSA and the British Veterinary Association has been reporting between ten and 12 cases a year of animals being infected.
However, scientists at an Idexx veterinary research laboratory recently alerted the Government after encountering 310 cases of MRSA in animals over the past two and a half years. Members of the new committee will include actress Jill Moss, who has led a campaign to raise awareness of the risks of MRSA in pets after her dog Bella became the UK's first recorded canine victim of the bacteria.
Bella, a ten-year-old white samoyed, suffered blood poisoning, pneumonia and organ failure caused by MRSA after an operation a year ago on a torn ligament. She had been injured chasing a squirrel near Miss Moss's home in Edgware, NorthWest London. Her wound became infected a week after surgery and despite a further operation, she had to be put down. Since then, an eight-year-old alsatian called Connell is also known to have died from MRSA, along with at least one cat and several rabbits and guinea pigs.
Miss Moss, who has appeared in TV shows such as The Bill and EastEnders, said: `I never in my wildest dreams thought Bella might contract MRSA. If it had been diagnosed earlier she might still be here. `The real problem is that vets are reluctant to admit they have a problem in their surgeries. They blame the owners but often they are operating in conditions that aren't good enough.'
Miss Moss, 34, said the committee, which will include several health professionals, will look at how to stop MRSA escalating in animals and help to establish the best advice for vets. It is not known what, if any, danger MRSA in animals poses to humans. The veterinary association urges vets to take similar precautions to hospitals but points out there have been no recorded cases of MRSA being passed from animals to humans and it is highly unlikely the bug could enter the food chain.
Victim: Bella with owner Jill Moss