MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant form of staph, can be found on both humans and their furry companions. Normally, it does not cause any serious problems. However, if it gets into the blood stream through a cut or other injury, it can cause severe, even fatal, infections. The overuse of antibiotics has caused this bug to evolve to the point where it is not treatable with regular antibiotics. Once limited to hospitals, it is now out in the open community, where it poses as much a risk to pets as it does people.
MRSA is present in our everyday environment, and can move from person to person, environment to person or pet, or pets and people can pass it back and forth. Since pets are with us in such proximity, it allows the bacteria to be passed back and forth. Pets can also get infections from veterinarians and staff that have not followed proper hygiene measures. In many cases, pets are most likely to become infected after a surgery, when bacteria can get into their body through the open wound.
There are several things that you can watch for in your pet that can alert you to a MRSA infection. Discharge or inflammation from a wound, wounds that are not healing, fever, and other signs of infection can all be warning signs.
If your pet is going to need surgery, find out ahead of time what antibiotics you pet will need to take before and after. You will also want to know what steps the vet will take to prevent infection from getting into the wound, and whether surgery is performed in a sterile environment. Find out how your pet will be monitored before, during, and after surgery, as well as the contact he or she will have with other animals. You can also ask if there is a specialist that you can be referred to perform the surgery, and find out what you can look forward to as far as post-operative care.
To help protect your pet, always talk to your vet about any concerns that you have. Avoid having your vet stay in the hospital for long periods of time if possible, and avoid contact with animals that have been diagnosed as carriers of MRSA.
If you think your vet has an infection or is not recovering properly, tell your vet right away. Ask for cultures to be done right away, and make sure that you have a clear explanation of what your vet thinks the problem is. Your vet should be willing to talk to you about all possible prognoses that are possible and the long term affects of each.
The highest risk of MRSA is in pets that are not healthy. Long term illnesses or surgeries can weaken your pet’s immune response making him or her more vulnerable to infection. Besides this, there is no real risk for you or your pet, and no reason to panic, unless either of you is going to come in contact with a vulnerable person or animal.