Cat transmits MRSA to owner

Published on April 15, 2008
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While there is evidence that companion animals, mainly dogs, harbor methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a brief report in the New England Journal of Medicine illustrates that transmission also occurs between cats and humans.

The report highlights the transmission of MRSA between a woman and her cat. The otherwise healthy woman repeatedly suffered from multiple, deep abscesses. Cultures of specimens obtained from her husband and their two children yielded MRSA on several occasions. Antimicrobial nasal ointment and antiseptic washes were recommended for the family members. Although the woman's husband and children became MRSA-negative, she remained MRSA positive.

Next, her three apparently healthy cats were screened. A culture of a specimen obtained from one cat yielded MRSA with the same antimicrobial-resistance pattern as that of the human isolates. The MRSA-positive cat was treated with antimicrobials. Four weeks later, screening tests done on the family were negative for MRSA and the woman's deep abscesses had completely resolved.

The authors concluded that pets should be considered as possible household reservoirs of MRSA that can cause infection or reinfection in humans.