Q: My dog was just diagnosed with a MRSA ear infection. Should I be worried about catching it from my dog?
A: It depends on exactly what kind of infection your dog is harboring. MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a type of Staph. bacteria that has developed resistance to a class of drugs called beta-lactam antibiotics. MRSA infections in humans are harder to treat than infections that are not resistant to medication, and therefore are more dangerous.
However, MRSA is an unusual infection to see in a dog or cat. Animals are more likely to pick up methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus intermedius (MRSI), also referred to as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudointermedius (MRSP), a different strain of Staph. bacteria. Dogs and cats can get MRSA, but in almost all cases, they have picked it up from a human in the household. Conversely, MRSI infection in humans is very rare.
To keep yourself safe from MRSI bacteria, you should wear gloves and wash up well when treating an infected pet and also after regular contact (such as petting). Infected sites may need to be bandaged. Immediately clean up stool from an infected pet. Immune-suppressed family members should also avoid contact with the infected pet until treatment is complete. If you have questions about your own health while treating a pet for MRSA or MRSI, contact your physician