MRSA no longer affects only people, it affects animals as well. This may not sound like a big problem, but the far-reaching repercussions of MRSA in animals will touch every person in some way and could cause the MRSA epidemic to grow out of control. MRSA has been found in pets, farm animals, and it may be in wildlife. Even more disturbing, there are pages and pages of scientific evidence that shows that MRSA passes between animals and people. Sometimes the bacteria starts in people, other times it starts in animals.
MRSA is an opportunistic infection. Recently it has taken its opportunity to leave the hospital and enter our community in many different ways. One growing way MRSA is entering our community is through our pets. Your dog may transmit the MRSA infection to your family making all of you very sick or even killing you! Over the past twenty years, there have been many cases of MRSA reported in dogs, cats, rabbits, and horses.
One way MRSA has infected our pets is through their post-surgical wounds. Even healthy animals are losing their limbs or lives as a result of this infection. The Bella Moss Foundation and its sister site provides vets information and advice about controlling MRSA. This Foundation was set up by British actress Jill Moss, the owner of Bella, who was one of the first family pets on record to acquire and die from MRSA complications. The ten-year-old Samoyed dog acquired MRSA from surgery. Bella's owner says on her website, "Bella died of MRSA for two reasons. Firstly, the surgery for her cruciate ligament infected her with MRSA and this went undetected by the variety of vets treating her for three weeks. Secondly, I didn't know there were such things as specialist veterinary centres, and had to take it upon myself to find Bella the best care once I lost faith in a London multi-chain vet hospital". Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. According to the London Evening Standard, Jill also acquired MRSA, probably from Bella.
According to The New England Journal of Medicine, there has been more and more evidence that pets and people can pass MRSA to each other. In a letter to this journal, German researchers tell the story of a healthy woman who may have acquired MRSA from one of her three cats. The German family's cat didn't show any signs of skin infection, but the cat tested positive for MRSA. It is not certain the woman acquired MRSA from her cat or vice versa, but the MRSA strain she had is "extremely rare" in humans. In addition, the woman's MRSA didn't clear up until the cat was treated with antibiotics. There is a similar story of cats with MRSA in a 2006 issue of the CDC's journal, "Emerging Infectious Diseases". This story tells of a San Francisco cat with skin ulcers that tested positive for MRSA. According to the report, it probably acquired MRSA from its owner, who had skin infections three months earlier.