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Therapy dogs can acquire MRSA

Photo: at the vet's

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus can affect dogs used in health care settings, according to the American Medical Veterinary Association


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From the Journal of the American Medical Veterinary Association:

Updates to a backgrounder on methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus incorporate recent research on colonization of therapy dogs that visit health care settings.

The AVMA and American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine backgrounder cites research that indicates the presence of MRSA in health care environments may put animals at risk of infection or colonization during their involvement in animal-assisted intervention programs and includes guidelines for handling animal-assisted intervention programs in health care settings.

One study cited in the backgrounder indicates that dogs that participated in animal-assisted programs in health care settings were six times as likely to acquire MRSA as were dogs that participated in non-health-care-related intervention programs.

The backgrounder also cites a separate study of 26 dog-handler teams in Ontario. Clostridium difficile and MRSA were not detected on the therapy dogs' forepaws or fur or on the hands of their handlers or the investigator prior to visiting long-term care facilities. Clostridium difficile was detected on one dog's paws following a visit to an acute care facility, and MRSA was detected on the hands of the investigator who petted a dog after it had visited a long-term care facility.

"These results suggest that therapy dogs may become infected with pathogens during their visits to health-care facilities and reinforces the importance of good hand hygiene before and after handling therapy animals," the backgrounder states.

Read the rest at the link.


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http://www.avma.org/onlnews/javma/aug09/090815b.asp

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