Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Any bacterium with a tongue-twister name like methicillin-resistant
Staphylococcus aureus — a.k.a. MRSA — must be serious, right?
Well, it can be.
In humans, MRSA infections can even be life-threatening. And while these infections aren't as common in pets, they can still cause serious illness in
cats and other animals.
Healthy people commonly carry
Staphylococcus aureus on their skin and in their noses. If the bacteria enter the body through a cut or scrape, it can lead to a skin or soft tissue infection.
Treatment with a class of antibiotics called beta-lactams usually does the trick. However, if these bacteria become resistant to methicillin (a type of beta-lactam), other antibiotics — such as penicillin and amoxicillin — usually won’t work either.
If this happens, it could be necessary to use another antibiotic that may not be as effective, comes with more side effects and can be more expensive.
MRSA infections are not as common in dogs and cats. While MRSA is a major issue in human health,
dogs are more likely to be affected by a different bacterial strain called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus pseudointermedius or MRSP. These infections usually infect canines through skin wounds, surgical sites and ears — and like MRSA, they are difficult to treat.
Although the precise behavior of these bacteria is still unknown, it has been suggested that MRSP shows a preference for living on pets, but animals colonized with MRSA will often clear the bacteria on their own within a few weeks. In the same way, MRSP appears to be poorly adapted to humans.
People can acquire MRSA from pets — and vice versa. Humans commonly contract MRSA in hospital settings, but they can also become infected in the greater community if they come in direct contact with a person, pet or object contaminated with MRSA. But while pets can transmit MRSA to humans, their role is thought to be relatively minor.
For pets with active MRSA infections, the bacteria can be transmitted to humans either by direct contact with the infected area or contaminated items, such as bedding. A colonized animal often carries the bacteria around the nose and anus, so people should be
vigilant about washing and sanitizing their hands after touching pets or picking up feces.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
From offering treats to keeping dog
shampoo out of your pup's eyes, here are
six ways to make bath time less…
Do you think dogs show guilt when they
misbehave or chew up your favorite
things to punish you? You heard wrong.
You usually don't need to worry about this
behavior, but sometimes it can indicate a
medical issue or anxiety…
The wavy-coated Cornish Rex might not be able to speak English, but she knows how to get her point across.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.