View Full Version : Bella has MRSA

24th March 2008, 03:57 PM
I posted a few weeks ago about how Bella had a absess type thing on her belly. After the first doctor visit she was put on Clavamox, after a week of the lump not going away we brought her back into the vet, they did a culture of the absess and it came back as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). If you aren't familiar its the same "super-bug" being found in humans. Its basically a very hard to kill bacteria (staph) that is running rampant in the hospitals and is very resistent to most antibiotics. From what I have read and talked to people about its mostly only harmful when your immune system is suppressed but there is still alot of debate out there about it. The vet isn't sure how she would have picked it up - maybe from her spay??? He also said this is the first case in a dog he has seen - its a human virus which she can pass it onto us as well which I am sure she has already since her wound has been open for the past 2 weeks. I'm wondering if anyone has experienced this yet with thier dog or if anyone knows anything about this. I don't know the best treatment options and it doesn't seem the vet does either. I am going to take her to our larger animal hospital next week if this doesn't go away and I'm hoping they will know more. Apparently though, even if the absess goes away the bug still forever lives in her system and never really dies - she just becomes colonized but not infected. I'm just really confused at this point and looking for any advice for how to best handle this.

24th March 2008, 04:01 PM
1st of all, POOR Bella!

MRSA is bad -- I've only heard of people in hospitals having it. I have no information on it, but wanted you to know that I'll keep you and Bella in my thoughts and prayers.

24th March 2008, 04:31 PM
Be extremely careful on handling her even if you can't see drainage. Wash your hands with vigorous motion and use friction. It has been established that the alcohol gel hand cleaners have limited effectiveness so do not rely on them and extend your handwashing time, I would wash for 3 minutes. I forget the word for bacteria crossing from human to animal but until more is known you have to accept it can cross back again. Hope she heals quickly and this can be only a memory. If you are close to a Vet School it would be good for you to check with re: anything further that can be done and any further precautions. :xfngr:

24th March 2008, 04:34 PM
Well, she would likely have been severely immune suppressed at the end of last year when she had pancreatitis? She was very seriously ill -- that would have affected her immune system strength for a long time afterwards and sometimes does so permanently and they keep getting bouts of it. A spay generally has a fast very recovery. Some dogs do not have great immune systems to begin with and she may just be more susceptible to problems. Do you know anything about general health in this breeder's lines?

I do know of another dog that has had it, and was very ill because of it. They had her on a drip. That was probably closer to the reaction humans have in severe cases though.

24th March 2008, 04:36 PM
PS if you vet doesn't know how to treat it, I'd immediately take her to a vet school or similar and talk to a specialist.

Also: apparently most people harbour MRSA much of the time too. As with a lot of bugs, it apparently isn't generally a problem if you are healthy.

24th March 2008, 04:40 PM
Thanks for the feedback - yes, she had pancreatitis at the end of November - but if she picked it up then why would it take so long to show itself until now? If I understand though, she wouldn't just get it from being sick - she would have needed to pick it up from somewhere? You said the dog you know that had this was very sick - can you elaborate on the details of his condition. I am getting more and more worried about this by the day. She is very healthy otherwise - eating, drinking, playing like a crazy woman, lots of energy all the time. I don't care about us getting it quite honestly - she sleeps in our bed, shes on us 24/7, gives us kisses, etc. - if we are to get it we have it already - I just want to get her better.

24th March 2008, 04:43 PM
There's quite a lot on MRSA and dogs, if you google it.


NB: I'd get her to a vet school hospital asap based on this:

March 29, 2005
Warning to pet owners and vets after first ever UK MRSA dog
—dies of human strain“

Web site reveals widespread global problem

The UK‘s first recorded dog to die of MRSA had a human strain of the disease, it is
revealed today.
In an alarming development for millions of pet owners, a leading independent
microbiology laboratory told Jill Moss of Edgware, Middlesex, that 10-year-old Bella,
her beautiful white Samoyed, must have become infected during surgery. Bella had
contracted a particularly resistant strain and the surgeon —most probably was
colonised and not wearing a mask“.
And the problem, far from being isolated, could be global. The website of the Bella
Moss Foundation, Jill‘s animal welfare charity dedicated to protecting companion
animals from MRSA and other serious infections, has attracted a flood of case studies.
The British Veterinary Association is warning all its members about the risk.
The Bella Moss Foundation is campaigning to change veterinary standards on
infection control, and Jill plans a veterinary clinic specialising in the treatment of pets
suffering serious infection.
Jill‘s tireless website campaign has brought the issue to the fore in the veterinary
world, and the British Veterinary Association, in response to the threat, has taken
steps to warn its members. At present there are no statutory or enforceable regulations
to which vets are accountable for their infection control practices.
Bella‘s problems started in summer 2004 when she ruptured a ligament in her hind leg
while playfully chasing squirrels. She immediately underwent emergency surgery at a
Page 2
London multi-chain veterinary group, and returned home, but for two weeks was in
distress and failed to recover. Vets visited regularly, telling Jill that her pet was
suffering from pain reaction to surgery.
Then, Bella‘s wound burst open and she was rushed into hospital where, over the next
few days, she continued to deteriorate. Finally, Jill decided to remove Bella to a
specialist veterinary clinic where Bella was discovered to have pneumonia and septic
shock. She was critically ill and underwent another emergency operation that found
that the infection, which had been present for three weeks and was later identified as
MRSA, had caused severe damage to her leg. Bella miraculously survived the
operation, and after three weeks was discharged home with a plan to reconstruct her
leg after another month.
However, after returning home, Bella became ill again, but was unable to return to the
specialist clinic because of its referral policy. A senior partner at the multi-chain
group where the original surgery was performed, and whose father had died after
contracting MRSA, persuaded Jill that everything she and Bella needed would be
provided. On that basis, Bella returned to the place where her infection had originally
The following 48 hours were the worst of Jill‘s life.
She said: —Bella and I were confined to a consulting room, and as Bella lay on the
floor gasping for breath, I watched helplessly as young unqualified veterinary staff
refused to treat her for fear of becoming infected themselves. In the end I had to nurse
Bella personally, even to the point of having to phone the practice switchboard on my
mobile from the consulting room where Bella and I were confined because no-would
come in. Eventually, with no other choice, I had to have her put her to sleep.
—The experience of watching my most beloved friend deteriorate in front of my eyes
and be refused care has left me feeling determined that no other animal or pet owner
should ever suffer in this way. If I had known about MRSA in animals or understood
the risks, Bella could have been saved not just from death but from inhumane
Since www.pets-mrsa.com was launched, Jill has been inundated with requests for
help from hundreds of owners of pets with MRSA from all over the world.
She continued: —We have found that this problem is widespread throughout the world,
and we are determined to inform and warn pet owners and vets, and be a supportive
but persistent voice calling for better infection prevention, to avoid it happening
again. Post-operative infections are not simply bad luck, too often they reflect bad
Research by Professor David Lloyd in the Veterinary Dermatology Department at the
Royal Veterinary College suggests MRSA infection in veterinary practice is on the
rise. His research publishes 12 confirmed cases over a few months at the Queen
Mother hospital in Potters Bar. He said: "We've surveyed the hospital and taken
samples from animals and staff, and found that 20 per cent of staff were colonised.
Page 3
There is a potential to transfer the infection from humans to animals, and any animal
being treated with antibiotics may be susceptible to MRSA.“
Jill is appealing for funds to promote information on MRSA for vets and pet owners,
sponsor conferences, produce publications, and develop a veterinary clinic
specialising in the treatment of pets suffering serious infection.
Claire Rayner, Honorary Patron of PETS-MRSA.COM and The Bella Moss
Foundation, said: —We as a society need to be concerned with animals contracting
MRSA. It is a very worrying situation. More research needs to be done for the future.
—I am concerned about MRSA cross contamination from people to animals, and vets
should be diligent about infection control. We should all be concerned with protecting
pets from unnecessary suffering and death.“
Jill Moss added: —Unless important changes take place in the way veterinary practices
perform surgery and take better care of postoperative infections, the levels of MRSA
in animals will rise. At present we really have no clear idea of how MRSA moves
through the pet population, nor how it might affect humans, and this is the reason we
desperately need more research. In the meantime, it is absolutely crucial that vets take
this risk seriously; what happened to Bella shouldn‘t happen to a dog.“

This says a vancomycin oitment was successfully used to treat a dog:


24th March 2008, 04:45 PM
Sorry I just saw your question about the breeder. She is a great breeder who does all gets all the certs done - eyes, patella, heart, etc. I thought about calling her and telling her about this but I don't want to freak her out if this is just something Bella unluckily picked up. I don't think it would have anything to do with her lines? Except, maybe if she's had dogs that have poor immune systems - but I doubt it - she definitely wouldn't breed them if they did - she is super cautious about all of that stuff. I'm more worried that she will freak about the meds they have her on for this - the breeder is very against over immunizing and over medicating this breed - and the pill I have on her is to be giving three times a day and I worry if its too much for her little body as well but I just want to kill this thing!

24th March 2008, 05:28 PM
:xfngr: the little one gets better soon

24th March 2008, 05:40 PM
If there's an abcess it sounds like there was a wound so maybe she did get something in there during the spay?

I'd just definitely want to be following a known and tried line of treatment based on previous cases -- I wouldn;t want to make guesses when it can be fatal -- hence the suggestion to get to a specialist as a matter of some urgency.

24th March 2008, 05:45 PM
From the website mentioned above:

What do I do when my pet is diagnosed with MRSA Infection?

1. People in contact with your pet:
MRSA is not usually a problem for healthy people as they have a natural
bacterial flora and their immune system to protect them. Some healthy people
and pets even carry MRSA in their nose or mouth as part of their normal flora.
However, if an individual has underlying health problems, they will be at
increased risk for acquiring infection from contact with your pet just as from
contact with MRSA-carrying people. You need to identify anyone in your
household who might be at a higher risk and those individuals should not be
involved in the daily care for your pet. You should discuss this with your GP by
telling him or her that your pet has been diagnosed with MRSA infection.

2. Risk of re-infection to your pet
Your vet will have started your pet on medication to treat the MRSA
infection (often antibiotic tablets, capsules, injections and sometimes creams). In
some cases of wound infection, the infection can be resolved before the wound
has healed completely. In those circumstances it is important to reduce MRSA
from the environment to prevent MRSA contaminating the wound and starting
infection again. While MRSA cannot survive on dry surfaces for very long,
people, other animals in the house and the patient itself may all carry MRSA in
the nostrils, in the mouth or on their fur without any harm to their bodies. In order
to prevent re-infection of your pet from humans or other animals you can ask
your GP to take a swab for MRSA from your nose and your vet may do the same
with other pets living in your house (you will be asked to cover the cost as part of
the treatment regime for your pet). Once you know whether you or other family
members carry MRSA you can either treat it (your GP will advise you on this) or
you can avoid contact with your pet or wear a mask to prevent MRSA transfer
from you to your pet.

3. Aftercare
Wound management will be very similar to the handling of any other infected
wound. Your vet will advise you on this (medication, collar, bandages etc) as
each wound is different and needs individual assessment. However, should you
encounter any problems in following your vet’s advice, for example, if your pet
refuses to take the tablets or resists having the wound inspected, tell your vet
immediately. MRSA infection is difficult to treat but for most animal patients,
medication is still available for successful treatment provided it can be given
correctly. Communication between you and your vet is very important in dealing
with these infections and you should let your vets know if you are worried about
the progress of wound healing (redness, discharge, odour) so that they can re-
assess changes. Sometimes, repeated swabs or a change in medication
becomes necessary as the bacteria involved in wound infections can change
during therapy.

4. Hygiene precautions
The most important means of preventing the spread of any infection, including
MRSA, is good hygiene. If your pet has been diagnosed with MRSA infection,
hand washing, the single most important factor of preventing spread of bacteria
amongst individuals, should be carried out before and after stroking your pet,
before and after dealing with the wound, after coming home from work and
before going out, in addition to the usual hand washing occasions during the day.
Jewellery should be removed prior to handling your pet. Hands should be
washed under warm flowing water using soap or an antiseptic solution (according
to the manufacturers’ instructions if those are given). Take care to rub all areas of
the skin thoroughly including the thumbs, finger tips and the back of your hands.
This process should take one to two minutes before thorough rinsing. Hands
should then be dried with disposable paper towels or frequently washed hand
towel that is not used for other purposes.

Bandages from your pet should be disposed of in separate plastic bin bags
immediately. Avoid letting them lie around where they could be dragged around
and avoid contact of the bandages with floors, furniture or bedding. It may be
helpful to keep your pet confined to an area where floors can be wiped easily,
e.g. a tiled room downstairs.

In summary, general hygiene procedures such as cleanliness, frequent and
thorough hand washing and careful handling of bandage material will aid the
treatment of your pet’s MRSA infection. However, successful treatment will
depend on a combination of various factors such as hygiene, appropriate
medication and close monitoring of progress, which is where communication
between you and your vet becomes very important.

June 2005
Anette Loeffler, MRCVS

24th March 2008, 05:51 PM
holy cow :eek: I had NO idea that dogs could get mRSA and that it was transmissible from canine to human ..! What prompted your vet to swab for this in the first place?

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you and Bella that everything goes smoothly and they are able to treat this quickly. I can't imagine what you must be feeling right now.

I agree with Karlin to get to the specialist ASAP. I know from being in a medical profession that people who have an active infection are on isolation because it's so contagious.

Please take care and good luck!! :flwr:

Cathy Moon
24th March 2008, 10:28 PM
You might want to call your own doctor as well to find out all precautions you should be taking.

Any cuts in your skin, no matter how small, should be covered to protect yourself.

24th March 2008, 10:36 PM
First and foremost I want to say that I hope that Bella recovers from this quickly, I will most certainly be thinking of you until I hear that all is well, how awful!!

Next, I have heard of a UK breeder, but for the life of me her name escapes me, who's Cavalier also had MRSA, I cannot recall the outcome as I was ill myself at the time, most sorry about that.

Lastly, as Karlin has already said we do all carry the MRSA within us naturally, when I had a major op in Nov '06 I was given a leaflet about it, maybe this is also true of our furry friends too? It would seem so!

Thinking of you both, a :hug: for the both of you!! :hug: :hug:

24th March 2008, 11:58 PM
Anyone who does pet therapy will probably be exposed to MRSA in a Nursing Home. Many elderly who have been hospitalized and come in new to the Home or return to the Home test positive for MRSA and, because of confidentiality, visitors are not aware of who has this or who doesn't have it. Can you co-exist with MRSA ?-staff does it all the time by strict hygiene. No one can honestly tell if their own immune system is A+ so all standards have to be followed all the time. I've specialed many greviously ill people who had to battle MRSA along with other illnesses.

25th March 2008, 02:34 AM
The doctors in our community are telling patients to bathe in 1/4 cup of bleach in half a tub of water at least 3 times a week to prevent staph infections.

25th March 2008, 03:04 AM
Oh my goodness. I hope she recovers soon.