Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA, is a strain of bacteria that is resistant to multiple antibiotics. MRSA can spread from infected humans to pets. It also can spread from pets to humans.
MRSA has been in the news quite a bit lately because of its status as a superbug–a bacteria that causes infections that are exceptionally difficult to clear. Many people contract MRSA in hospitals. Many hospital workers are believed to carry the bacteria.
In people, MRSA may infect wounds or surgical sites. It can cause pneumonia, bladder infections, and, in severe cases, sepsis (infection of the blood) and death. Some people carry MRSA without showing any symptoms. These people may infect animals and other humans.
In animals, MRSA is most commonly known to cause difficult skin infections. It also has been documented in the noses of pets.
Many vets believe that most animal cases of MRSA result from exposure to infected humans in the house. Cases of animals and humans passing the bacteria to each other repeatedly have made news in the veterinary community.
MRSA infections in dogs and cats are thought to be quite rare. However, the dangerous nature of MRSA is a good reason to see a vet if your pet shows any unusual symptoms.