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MRSA and Antibiotic Resistance in Companion AnimalsVeterinarian Examining a Dog

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a newly emerging strain of a common microscopic germ that lives on the skin and nasal passages of humans and some animals.  It is present in about 1 percent of people in the United States.  Normally, when a person or animal is healthy, MRSA causes no significant illness.  However, following surgery or other illness, MRSA can cause severe or life threatening infections because the antibiotics normally used to fight the organism are no longer effective.

MRSA can be a zoonotic infection (a disease that can be transmitted from animals to people).  A person can transfer the bacteria to their pets, who can then transfer the bacteria back to family members.


Animals associated with MRSA include:

  • Cats:  Cats also can become infected with MRSA through contact with infected people or animals, contaminated environments or recent invasive procedures.
  • Dogs: Dogs can become infected with MRSA through contact with infected people or animals, contaminated environments or recent invasive procedures.
  • Other pets:  Other pets can become infected with MRSA and spread it to people or other animals.

Resources for pet owners, veterinarians and medical professionals:

MRSA is one of many bacteria that have developed resistance to certain antibiotics.  Some of these are zoonotic and have been reported in animals as well as people.  To prevent resistance, several human and veterinary groups have published guidelines on how to select antimicrobials for animals to preserve their use in the future.  

Resources for veterinarians on antimicrobial stewardship in small animal medicine:

 

Last updated:  09/16/2014

Zoonotic Disease Program