Vets in the UK must do more to educate owners about methicillin-resistant (MRSA), according to academics and owner action groups.

The calls follow the release of American research into bite-acquired infections.
Richard Oehler, an infectious disease specialist from the University of South Florida, found an increased risk of humans acquiring potentially fatal community acquired infections from cat and dog bites.

Published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal, his paper, “Bite-related and septic syndromes caused by cats and dogs”, discusses treatment of clinical cases and warns of the threat of community-acquired strains spreading back and forth between humans and animals.

Reference is made to the community-acquired MRSA strain USA 300/ST8, which is becoming prevalent in America, as well cases isolating other strains of multidrug-resistant S aureus.

The paper concludes: “Healthcare providers are at the forefront of protecting the vital relationships between people and their pets. Clinicians must continue to promote loving pet ownership, take an adequate pet history, and be aware that associated diseases are preventable via recognition, education and simple precautions.”

Dr Oehler said: “Vets need to raise awareness among pet owners of the risk of MRSA and they also need to be familiar with how to manage and treat MRSA infections of pets.”

Jill Moss, founder of pet owner action group The Bella Moss Foundation, has been “inundated” with American enquiries about USA 300 and urged UK practitioners to take infection prevention seriously.

She said: “USA 300 is such a massive problem in the US – it’s only a matter of time before it comes here.

“We’re in a better position on MRSA than in the US. However, our animals are still in a vulnerable position and this has got to be something that vets take seriously. We need more monitoring and surveillance – we’re getting there but there’s not enough being done. Vets need to do more to raise awareness.”

The 2009 International MRSA conference will take place in London on September 22-25 with a dedicated clinician’s day on September 26.

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