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MRSA Strains Can Be Isolated from U.S. Pets

Strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus common in hospitals are also found in pets

WEDNESDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that are found in hospital patients can also be isolated from pets, according to a Pennsylvania study presented this week at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases in Atlanta.

Shelley Rankin, Ph.D., of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues characterized 39 MRSA strains isolated from pets at the Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania between 2002 and 2005.

The researchers found that all 39 isolates were multiple-drug resistant and mecA positive. They identified 17 different types according to pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. They also identified two distinct clusters. In the first group of 37 isolates, seven were were SCCmec type II, and in a second group of two isolates, one was SCCmec type IV.

"The predominance of strains commonly associated with health care facilities was unexpected and the reasons for this are currently unknown," the authors conclude. "It has been hypothesized that as we live in close proximity to our pets that the potential for transfer of MRSA from animal to humans may pose a threat to public health. An alternative, if radical, hypothesis is that as we live in close proximity to our pets, we may pose a threat to their health."

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