Researchers Look at Pet Link in Human Infections

A study underway by researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia will examine whether or not pet cats and dogs are a major source of multi-resistant bacteria (MRSA) in humans.

Posted: August 2, 2007, 5 a.m. EDT

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Researchers are doing tests to see if resistant bacteria in humans can be transfered from pets
Researchers examine whether or not pet cats and dogs are a major source of multi-resistant bacteria in humans.
Researchers suspect that a recent rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria infections in the general population is stemming from something other than a hospital visit where most of these infections crop up.

“We used to think of these antibiotic-resistant infections as a health care issue that appeared in postoperative or long-term patients,” said Stephanie Kottler, a resident at the university’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. “However, we have been seeing more of these infections that have been acquired throughout the general population, or ‘community acquired’ infections. It’s important to know what environmental factors might be encouraging or prolonging these infections.”

MRSA bacteria can live in the nose or on the skin of a human or pet without producing symptoms. The bacteria, however, becomes dangerous when it enters the body through a cut or puncture, producing a serious infection, such as pneumonia.

Kottler suspects pets might play a role in the increase of community infections in prison populations, athletes and households.

In some cases, the people may be passing a Staphylococcus aureus bacterium to their pet, which then passes it back to the person causing a potentially fatal infection in the human, Kottler said.

So far, they have collected about 500 nasal swabs from human health care workers, veterinary health care workers and the general population, as well as anal and nasal swabs from cats and dogs.

Published results aren’t expected until next spring, although analysis of the results could begin as early as this fall.

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Researchers Look at Pet Link in Human Infections

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Reader Comments

Joni Fields    Shorewood, MN

8/27/2007 7:29:30 AM

I am a healthcare worker and have had a staph positive culture done in my nose about a month ago. My male bengal cat has become ill in the past 2-3 weeks and has developed a mass in his abdomen.He is an indoor cat and I am wondering if it could be staph related? He is going downhill very suddenly and the vet doesn't think it's related. Any ideas? We don't have much time left with him.

Donna    Kenosha, WI

8/3/2007 7:59:30 AM

If they find this to be true it will devistate the whole companion animal world. People will be surrendering animals right and left, and more people will choose not to adopt. This will be a death sentence for countless numbers of animals.

debby    oxford, NC

8/2/2007 9:32:53 PM

what will be next ?

Jessica    Grants Pass, OR

8/2/2007 5:44:41 PM

I hope this is not true! I don't want to give up my cats no matter what! And I won't.

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