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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 March, 2005, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Vets warned over MRSA in animals
MRSA
The bug is blamed for around 1,000 deaths each year
Vets should take hospital-style precautions to avoid passing the MRSA "superbug" to animals, the British Veterinary Association has warned.

The BVA says vets should use sterile gloves, scrub suits and masks during operations to protect the animals.

Between 10 and 20 animals are found to carry the bug each year, but the BVA says that number is set to increase.

BVA president Bob Partridge, based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, says he has "great concern" over MRSA among vets.

"The main concern is trying to ensure we have as few cases as possible by encouraging veterinary surgeons to adopt best practice in operating procedures," he said.

'Increasing number'

He says there is a "wide awareness" in the industry of the problems MRSA can cause and the steps needed to prevent infections.

"These steps are being taken already in veterinary hospitals and a large number of practices.

"The problem will be that there will be an increasing number of cases as the bug becomes more common."

To illustrate his point, Mr Partridge highlighted the case of Bella, a 10-year-old white Samoyed, which became the UK's first recorded MRSA dog death last year.

'Supportive voice'

The dog's owner, Jill Moss, of Edgware, Middlesex, is campaigning to stop other pets contracting the bug.

"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," she said.

"Unless important changes take place in the way veterinary practices perform surgery and take better care of post-operative infections, the levels of MRSA in animals will rise."

MRSA infections can be fatal in human babies, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system, with the bug being blamed for around 1,000 deaths each year.

Many people carry MRSA with no adverse effects, but it can become a killer when transmitted in hospitals.


SEE ALSO:
MRSA superbug 'carried by pets'
14 Dec 03 |  Health
Q&A: MRSA 'superbugs'
24 Feb 05 |  Health


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