MRSA infection is a major concern in animals and, as in humans, animals can also become carriers. It is suspected that most animals acquire MRSA from humans (reverse zoonosis) (Heot & Hough, 2008). In 1959, Mann was one of the first to culture the nostrils of cats and dogs for Staphylococcus sp. and he "proposed that the common house pet can serve as an important reservoir or carrier of staphylococci infective for man" (Mann, 1959). In the 1970's MRSA strains were isolated in milk samples in Belgium (Devriese, Van Damme, & Fameree, 1972) (Devriese & Hommez, 1975). Humans can be carriers for weeks to years with no symptoms. Colonized animals can also harbor the bacteria, yet show no clinical signs of infection. Animals that are carriers of MRSA can be detected by culture and sensitivity testing on nasal, ear and rectal swabs. Dogs and cats have not demonstrated any long term colonization as of yet, however, pigs and horses can become long term carriers (Heot & Hough, 2008). At this time the toxin that causes "flesh eating" staphylococci infections in humans has not been seen in animals, but information about MRSA is changing rapidly (Hillier & Shulaw, 2008).
International Journal of Global Health and Health Disparities
©2009 International Journal of Global Health and Health Disparities
"MRSA in Animals and the Risk of Infection in Humans,"
International Journal of Global Health and Health Disparities, 6(1), 80-89.
Available at: https://scholarworks.uni.edu/ijghhd/vol6/iss1/9