THE PUBLIC profile of the organisation devoted to raising awareness of the growing incidence of MRSA in pets has grown dramatically in the past few months. Since its official launch at Crufts in March, the Bella Moss Foundation has started attracting attention across the regions of the UK.
Jill Moss, President and Founder of the charity, was busy on Friday the 13th speaking to local BBC radio stations from Essex to Belfast on the subject of pets and MRSA and the work of the Foundation.
"There is a growing interest from local communities now, and the BBC has recognised it," Moss told OUR DOGS. "I spent a whole morning speaking to local radio stations and helping them understand the importance of the issue."
The radio interest started from a magazine article in which the charity was highlighted, and Moss was not surprised that the story was picked up. The approach, however, was not universally positive.
"One station had a vet on who claimed that there had only been ten cases of MRSA infections in pets, and I think that tends to reflect the level of awareness in many vets around the country. I was very lucky that I had the opportunity to give accurate statistics from Mick Rich of Idexx Laboratories that shows there have been over two hundred cases in an eighteen month period, and those figures are likely to be revised upwards over the next few weeks."
Moss also welcomed the fact that a vet was honest and straightforward enough to admit that he probably hadn’t researched the figures as much as she had - and that he was able to take away better information than he brought after speaking to her. "One of the problems pet owners have is that many vets seem terribly reluctant to admit that their knowledge may be out of date or inaccurate, and so don’t seem willing to take on information they aren’t prepared for," she added.
Moss was able to speak with BVA President-Elect, Dr Freda Scott-Park, who was interviewed with her on Radio Newcastle, about the need not to apportion blame, but learn the lessons of Bella’s death in order to improve prevention.
"I don’t believe that conflict and controversy is the best way to build co-operative working," said Moss, "Vets are not any less concerned about the welfare of animals than pet owners. I was very glad that Dr Scott-Park was able to agree with the things I said about prevention being the priority, and I believe that these kinds of interviews are a great way of bringing the facts and the issues to local people."
Whereas the profile of the Foundation is important, Moss added that she didn’t spend a great deal of time in the interviews trying to promote the charity itself. "I’m much more concerned with getting the facts out, rather than simply promotion. That will come later."
On the whole, it appeared that the radio broadcasters were surprised that MRSA is now affecting pets, but Moss was clear about the need to keep the issue in perspective. Moss continued: "I was able to say to all of these local areas that there is no need to panic; MRSA is still relatively rare in animals, but if we don’t act, it has the potential to become a significant problem for pets, owners and veterinary staff alike."
When asked by one interviewer why we should be concerned with MRSA in pets when so many people are infected, Moss relied that any death from MRSA is tragic, saying: "Bella’s death was the tip of the iceberg; the country has lost adults, children, a newborn baby and now it’s first pet to MRSA, and we really have to work hard to prevent more pets becoming unnecessarily infected with the human strain of MRSA."
*The radio stations Moss spoke to were; Radio Swindon, Radio Newcastle, Radio Derby, Radio Belfast, Radio Coventry, Radio Essex, Radio, Cardiff, Radio Humberside and Radio Cambridgeshire.
* The Bella Moss Foundation website: www.thebellamossfoundation.com