FURTHER research into MRSA in animals is desperately needed, according to expertshis end a conference into the subject is being held aimed at raising awareness among vets about the infection and providing them with more support.
Veterinary scientists from around the world were travelling to Liverpool University on June 18 to take part in the first international conference on MRSA in animals.
.;eThe bacteria are common inhabitants of the throat and skin and are harmless to healthy patients but can cause potentially fatal infections in those with low immunity. MRSA infections can affect the skin, internal organs and surgical sites, and are resistant to many antibiotics. The bug kills more 1,000 people a year. At least 200 animals, including dogs, cats, horses and cattle, contract the bug every year in the UK; the first recorded death of a dog was in 2004, a Samoyed who belonged to actress Jill Moss. Vets take hospital-style precautions to control the spread of the MRSA ‘superbug’ to animals, which includes monitoring, antibiotic use and the use of sterile gloves, scrub-suits and masks during operations. Dr Susan Dawson, from the Liverpool University’s Small Animal Hospital, said: “The aim of the conference is to raise awareness among vets about the infection and to provide them with more support. It is essential to encourage further research in this area.”
The conference, organised in association with the Bella Moss Foundation, will bring together experts from around the world in veterinary and medical research to share knowledge about MRSA in animals and infection control in human and animal hospitals. It is the pinnacle of Ms Moss’ work so far, which started after her Samoyed, Bella, died from MRSA after being treated for a ruptured cruciate ligament at a multi-chain veterinary clinic.
As a result, Mrs Moss launched the Bella Moss Foundation, supported by a website, www.pets-mrsa.com “I did this as a result of seeing my beloved companion and best buddy die in the most traumatic way,” she said. “I want to help pet owners and vets know more about the risks of MRSA to pets so that no owner or pet will have to go through the same terrible experience.”
A recent article, written after the emergence of MRSA in animals, showed how the condition has become an increasing problem and the importance of it being taken seriously by vets.
“MRSA is an opportunistic infection which can kill vulnerable animals,” Mrs Moss said. “It is most dangerous when infecting a surgical wound and we are currently seeing even healthy animals losing limbs as a result of this infection.
“Good clinical practice in veterinary surgeries can prevent infection and colonisation, and effective screening can reduce the risk further. This depends upon veterinary staff being well trained and skilled and on pet owners understanding how to work with their vet in an effective and knowledgeable way.” The Foundation offers information to pet owners and vets on good infection control practices, news on research on MRSA in pets and what to consider when selecting a vet.
“We are seeking to collaborate with the veterinary profession by participating in groups and working parties dealing with the issue of MRSA and infection control, and are hoping to improve the understand of vets and pet owners of each other.”
The conference, entitled ‘MRSA in Animals: Epidemiology and Infection’, was held on June 18-21 at the University’s Veterinary Field Station at Leahurst on the Wirral.
dogworld – June 29, 2006 – 11:47