Dogs Are Now At Risk From Super Bacteria, Too

Humans aren't the only ones at risk from antibiotic-resistant MRSA. The super bacteria has also trained its sights on our collective best friends: Dogs.

Commenter and veterinarian elisethestrange told us a bit about some of the species-jumping pathogens that she had seen — including some recent cases of dogs that had picked up MRSA from humans:

Zooneses (diseases transmissible between humans and animals) are definitely important for all of us. The most common scare is potential rabies exposure when someone gets bit by an animal with an unknown vaccination history, but actually contracting rabies is extremely rare. In school, every couple years someone would get cryptosporidium when working with cattle, and vomit for two weeks straight.

Things like hantavirus, plague, etc, are mercifully rare and I've not seen it. One interesting thing I've seen is people giving their animals MRSA. Methicillin resistant staph aureus is a human pathogen; dogs have their own version. When we see a dog with MRSA, it generally came from a human in the household. If no one's been sick, they need to be aware that someone is carrying it around.

It's not just MRSA passing from humans to dogs though. The transmission can also, most likely, work the other way around, as The American Veterinary Medicine Association explains:

Originally, it was thought that the transmission of MRSA between animals and humans was only from human to animal, via contact between the hands of the human to the nostrils of the animal. However, there is increasing evidence indicating that MRSA can be transmitted in both directions, from human to animal (reverse zoonotic) and from animal to human (zoonotic). Once exposed to MRSA, animals can become colonized, and may serve as reservoirs to transmit the infection to other animals, as well as back to their human handlers (reinfection). Until the MRSA has been cleared from the animal (and the animal is therefore "decolonized"), there is a possibility that re-transmission from animal to human and further human-to-human transmission can occur.

The AVMA has put together a full FAQ on the subject of your pets and MRSA, which you can check out right here.

Image: Corgi Puppy / Daniel Stockman