MRSA Transmission Between Pets, Humans Increases

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

MRSA infections that are transmitted between dogs/cats and their human handlers, and vice-versa, are increasing-with infections of the skin, soft-tissue, and surgical infections the most common.

In the USA, dog and cat bites comprise roughly 1% of emergency room visits annually, with similar numbers reported in Europe. Women and the elderly are most at risk of being bitten by a cat. Men in general and those aged under 20 of both sexes are most likely to be injured.


Most bite exposures occur in young children, involve unrestrained dogs on the owner's property, and about 20% involve a non-neutered dog. Risk is highest in young boys aged 5-9 years, due to their small size and lack of understanding of provocative behaviour.

Children, due to their small height, often receive bites to the face, neck, or head. Adults are most frequently bitten on the hand, followed by face, scalp, neck, thigh or leg. As community-acquired strains of MRSA increase in prevalence, a growing body of clinical evidence has documented MRSA colonisation in domestic animals, often implying direct acquisition of S aureus infection from their human owners.

MRSA colonisation has been documented in companion animals such as horses, dogs, and cats, and these animals have been viewed as potential reservoirs of infection. MRSA-related skin infections of pets seem to occur in various manifestations, including simple dermatitis, and even perineal cellulitis, and can be easily spread to owners (see photos supplied with this release). Specific therapy for pet-associated MRSA infections is similar to regimens used in most community-acquired MRSA syndromes.