Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - Mark Humph Mark Humph

Horse veterinarians carry more MRSA with them than other vets

Researchers in Australia studied the carriage of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) by veterinarians in Australia.

The objective of the study - published in the Australian Veterinary Journal - was to estimate the prevalence of carriage of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) among Australian veterinarians.

To do so, individuals attending veterinary conferences in Australia in 2009 were recruited to provide nasal swabs and complete a questionnaire about their professional activities. Swabs were processed by standard methods for detecting MRSA and questionnaire responses were used to group veterinarians according to their areas of major work emphasis (species and practice type). The prevalence was estimated for each of these grouping and contingency tables and regression tree analysis used to explain the variation in MRSA carriage.

It was shown that among the 771 respondents the industry and government veterinarians (controls) had the lowest prevalence of MRSA carriage at 0.9%. Veterinarians with horses as a major area of work emphasis had a prevalence of 11.8% (13-fold that of controls) and those whose only major emphasis was horses had a prevalence of 21.4% (23-fold that of controls).

Veterinarians with dogs and cats as a major activity had a 4.9% prevalence (5-fold that of controls). Prevalence rates for other major activities (pigs, dairy and beef cattle, avian and wildlife) were also increased, but were estimated from smaller numbers of respondents.

Carriage of MRSA is a notable occupational health issue for veterinarians in clinical practice in Australia, and this study showed that veterinarians who work with horses have higher carriage prevalence of the bacteria. Also dog and cat practitioners as groups at increased risk of carriage of MRSA.



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