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MRSA in pets
- an update from the Bella Moss Foundation

RECENT NEWS coverage on BVA warning to its members about risks of MRSA in pets has resulted from extensive campaigning from Jill Moss who lost her beloved companion Bella to MRSA in August 2004.

Jill Moss writes: "After Bella’s death there was no information on pets with MRSA so I set up a website to alert pet owners to the risks now received hundreds of emails from all over the world from owners whose pets have acquired MRSA after veterinary treatment.

I wanted to do something to prevent other animals dying unnecessarily so I set up a charity in Bella’s memory. Claire Rayner has now become our patron and we have many celebrities supporting us" provides up to date information and addresses campaign issues and www.thebelalmossfoundation is the charity website which fundraises for donations to set up a veterinary clinic specialising in infection control for pets with MRSA and other serious infections.
In a bid to crack down on the deadly bug killing animals and cross contaminating people

Better standards

Jill Moss adds: "We are calling for the government to introduce enforceable standards of hygiene into UK veterinary practices. The BVA have standards for their members how are hospitals but Jill wants to see these standards extended out to all vets and for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons to introduce mandatory guidelines in infection control. At present the Royal College of Veterinary surgeons cannot regulate veterinary practices because they are restricted by an old law (1966 vet surgeons act) that prohibits them from dealing with cases of clinical misconduct and this leaves vets unaccountable by law for bad clinical practice."

At present research shows that humans are passing the bug to animals and not the other way around.

Prof David Lloyd from London’s Royal Veterinary College swabbed staff and animals at the Queen Mother Hospital in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire over one day and found 18 per cent of staff were carrying the MRSA bug.

"Even though a unique bacterium normally infects dogs called Staphylococcus intermedius, in just one year his hospital treated 12 dogs with MRSA. He identified that most dogs had been infected with the same strain that has become epidemic in humans.

He said: "Over 80 per cent of MRSA positive samples taken from animals and humans were the same strain that dominates in UK hospitals called ‘EMRSA-15’.

"We concluded that originally the strain had come from a human source which provides confirmation that these organisms can be transferred from people to animals."

He said the hospital had since introduced tough new infection control policies to eliminate the transfer of MRSA.

He said: "We are stricter than hospitals for humans. All rooms are thoroughly cleaned out if we think there may have been exposure to MRSA when an animal comes in.

"We don’t accept any animal before it has been tested for MRSA except for emergencies and if there is a risk we isolate the animal and barrier nurse them. There is a cost but we are confident that our measures are effective and we are cutting transfer of infection."

Prof Lloyd, who has studied infections in animals for over 25 years, said numbers of cases of MRSA infections in animals are rising.

He said: "We have seen more MRSA cases in the last 18 months.

"In 1998 we recognised that a problem was developing in dogs in Europe and the US and we started taking precautions. By 2003 we were seeing more cases – mainly in dogs.

"The risk we thought was small is now greater and we urgently need to do significant research into this problem.

Bob Partridge President of the British Veterinary association told Jill Moss that " Vets wearing sterile clothing is not a requirement and would cost another £10 to £15 on every procedure. The commercial reality is that we have to cut corners – owners demand that."

Jill argues:" surely the owner should know and have the choice to make that decision. Bella was the most precious friend in my life, and if I had known MRSA existed in animals and been told for the sake of £10.00 she could have been protected from dying she would still be alive today"

Claire Rayner, (patron of The Bella Moss Foundation), an ex-nurse who contracted the deadly bug in hospital is now campaigning for better standards in hospitals and vet surgeries. She said: "We as a society need to be concerned with animals contracting MRSA. It is a very worrying situation.

"Vets should be diligent about infection control. We should all be concerned with protecting pets from unnecessary suffering and death