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MRSA in pets Campaigner speaks at summit

Jill Moss with her Samoyed Bella,
who died of an MRSA infection during routine veterinary surgery

JILL MOSS, the founder of the Bella Moss Foundation which was formed to raise awareness of the growing number of cases of MRSA, has recently been exchanging ideas and information with healthcare professionals involved in the fight against MRSA.

Moss, whose own dog Bella died after contracting the disease, attended the Cleaner Hospitals Summit at London’s Hilton Hotel last Thursday, where delegates reacted with great interest – and alarm – to her account of how the disease is now affecting pets as well as humans.

Jill Moss says: "I attended the Patients' Summit where many issues concerning MRSA and healthcare were discussed. During the opening speeches agony aunt and Bella Moss advisor Claire Rayner announced that I was present and asked me to stand up and display the brochure, which generated a huge amount of interest. Claire has been an amazing support and for that we thank her."

Moss also had the chance to speak to actress Leslie Ash, who herself has been infected by MRSA during a stay in hospital last year.

"Leslie told me she has a dog that means the world to her and is so shocked to learn that MRSA is now affecting pets," says Moss. "She said 'It's really getting out of control and we need to do something'. She said the work we are doing is very important. I also met Dr Phil Hammond (from TVs Trust Me I’m A Doctor) who spoke at the end of the day to an invited audience and who showed great interest in the work of the Bella Moss Foundation."

There was a great deal happening at the Summit, including a speech given by Anne Walker, Chief Executive of the Healthcare Commission, on Inspecting, Informing and Improving hospital cleanliness, as a report in the Royal College of Nurses seminar, delivered by Sue Wiseman, on a piece of research that looked at the role of the built environment in infection control.

Anne Walker reported on the process the Healthcare Commission applies and described the patient surveys, self-assessments and inspections that combine to produce a picture of overall cleanliness. The process she described could become a model for veterinary practices, and whilst only specifically applied to hospitals at present, it could reduce the current concerns about cleanliness and infection control.


The RCN seminar focused on the difficulties encountered when trying to reduce MRSA infection rates in a particular general hospital ward. In looking at possible areas of contamination, the research found that MRSA was present in almost all areas of the ward and was cultured from almost everywhere that dust had been allowed to gather. (Dust being mainly dead skin cells) This included the medicines trolley that was in daily use and which showed that even areas that were generally assumed to be clean and free from infection were, in fact, contaminated.

The solution was not just to clean, but to reorganise the ward environment so that no area was used for long-term storage and areas difficult to reach, such as behind radiator covers, were made easily accessible.

Moss adds: "The results of their work were impressive; they reduced the MRSA infection rate from around 14% to less than 2%, but the knowledge they gained on the importance of looking at the environment critically is perhaps more important. This has direct relevance to veterinary practices aiming to reduce infections of all types and should be required reading for all vets."

Last month Jill Moss was invited by Mick Rich and Larry Roberts to visit the Idexx laboratory in Wetherby, Yorkshire. Idexx does a great deal of the analysis of bacterial strains, and had a great deal of information to give her.


Moss was able to tour the labs and see the ways by which bacteria are cultured and analysed.
"Mick and Larry spent a great deal of time explaining the many strains that MRSA has developed and were able to describe the process by which each strain is identified," says Moss. "They were able to explain that Bella had contracted Pseudomonas as well as one of the most resistant human strains of MRSA (e-MRSA 15, sub type B3) and that the indication was that it had been introduced into Bella’s wound by someone closely involved with her cruciate ligament surgery.

Since that visit, Larry and Mick have agreed to put together a piece for the website on useful things to know about MRSA strains."

* - research and campaign website - charity website