MRSA in Horses and Humans

Date Published: 11/16/2009

Most of you have probably heard of MRSA infections. These are the methicillin-resistant staph infections that are so dangerous in people because they are not responsive to most antibiotics commonly used. It is now recognized that these infections also occur in animals and particularly horses. Many times, the actual type of MRSA infection is different in humans than horses but it is still MRSA. So it's importantfor your veterinarian to cultureall non-healing equine wounds because this is the only method to determine if the infection is MRSA or not. Also, if you are treating an equine wound, it is a really good idea to wear gloves to protect yourself from the infection as it is possible for humans to be infected from equine wounds. Many horses carry the MRSA bacteria in their nasal cavities and people that work with horses also may be carriers of the organism.

A study discussed at a veterinary conference found that over 15% of the people that work at large animal veterinary clinics had MRSA in their nasal cavities while only about 4% of the small animal personnel were positive. Clinical infection of people working on horses has been reported. So if you work with horses, there is a greater chance you have MRSA in your nasal cavity than folks that do not work with horses. However, there are some things you can do to help prevent infection. First of all, wash your hands routinely. This is the most important method of prevention in human medicine, and it has been shown that alcohol-based hand sanitizers are more effective than antibacterial hand soaps. And also, use disposable latex gloves when treating a wound.

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