When it comes to transmission of MRSA and C. difficile, dogs are not necessarily man's best friend

May 07, 2009

In a letter to the Editor of the Journal of Hospital Infection, published by Elsevier, S. Lefebvre and J.S. Weese from the University of Guelph in Canada describe a study that investigated whether MRSA and C.difficile could be passed between pet therapy dogs and patients. The findings suggested that MRSA and C. difficile may have been transferred to the fur and paws of these canine visitors through patients handling or kissing the dogs, or through exposure to a contaminated healthcare environment.

This study was conducted amongst 26 pet therapy dog-handler teams between June - August 2007. Twelve teams visited acute care facilities and 14 visited long-term care facilities. Prior to each visit, the dog’s forepaws and their handlers’ hands were tested for , vancomycin-resistant enterococci and C.difficile. In addition, the investigator sanitized her hands, handled each dog, and then tested her hands for the same pathogens. Testing was repeated on departure from the facility. The dog-handler teams were observed at all times during the visits and all interactions with patients and staff were closely monitored.

None of the tested pathogens were found on the hands of the investigator or the handlers or the paws of the pet-therapy dogs prior to these visits. However, after visiting an acute care facility, one dog was found to have C.difficile on its paws. When the investigator’s hands were tested after handling another dog that had just visited a long-term care facility, MRSA was detected, suggesting the dog had acquired MRSA on its fur. The dog that acquired C.difficile had politely shaken paws with many of the patients. The dog found to have acquired MRSA on its fur, had been allowed onto patient’s beds and was seen to be repeatedly kissed by two patients.

Finding MRSA on the hands of the investigator who petted a dog after its visit to the long-term facility suggests that dogs that have picked up these pathogens can transfer them back to people. Even transient contamination presents a new avenue for transmission, not only for the pathogens evaluated in the study, but potentially for others such as influenza and norovirus.

The authors conclude that in order to contain the transmission of through contact with pet therapy animals, all patients and handlers should follow recommended hand sanitation procedures; as for the dogs, perhaps it’s time they learn how to clean themselves after contact with humans!

More information: “Contamination of therapy with MRSA and ” by S.L Lefebvre and J.S. Weese, appears in the Journal of Hospital Infection, doi:10.1016/j.jhin.2009.02.019 published by Elsevier on behalf of the Hospital Infection Society. http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jhin

Source: Elsevier

Explore further: US orders farms to report pig virus infections

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dogs carrying hospital superbug

May 31, 2007

Veterinarians in Sweden say dogs may be spreading the MRSA superbug in veterinary clinics. The first Swedish case of a dog contracting the virus was recorded at a clinic in Stockholm last fall, The Local newspaper said Wednesday.

Computer savvy canines

Nov 28, 2007

Like us, our canine friends are able to form abstract concepts. Friederike Range and colleagues from the University of Vienna in Austria have shown for the first time that dogs can classify complex color photographs and ...

Recommended for you

US orders farms to report pig virus infections

8 hours ago

The U.S. government is starting a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of a virus that has killed millions of pigs since showing up in the country last year.

Foreigner dies of MERS in Saudi

9 hours ago

A foreigner has died after she contracted MERS in the Saudi capital, the health ministry said on announced Friday, bringing the nationwide death toll to 73.

Vietnam battles fatal measles outbreak

12 hours ago

Vietnam is scrambling to contain a deadly outbreak of measles that has killed more than 100 people, mostly young children, and infected thousands more this year, the government said Friday.

New clues on tissue scarring in scleroderma

13 hours ago

A discovery by Northwestern Medicine scientists could lead to potential new treatments for breaking the cycle of tissue scarring in people with scleroderma.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...