Objectives: The occurrence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and the possible relatedness between human and animal isolates were investigated among veterinary staff and hospitalized animals in a referral small animal hospital in the UK.
Methods: A total of 300 swab samples were taken from nasal and oral mucosae of 78 veterinary staff, 45 dogs, 12 cats and from 30 environmental surfaces. Staphylococci were isolated by selective enrichment and characterized by biochemical tests and antimicrobial disc susceptibility testing. MRSA isolates were genotypically confirmed by PCR and typed by PFGE.
Results: MRSA was isolated from 14 staff (17.9%), four dogs (9%), and three environmental sites (10%) yielding a total of 28 MRSA isolates. PFGE analysis revealed that most MRSA isolates were indistinguishable (56%) or closely related (26%) to EMRSA-15, one of the two epidemic MRSA strains dominant in UK hospitals. Like EMRSA-15, the predominant strain isolated from staff, dogs and environmental sites was resistant to fluoroquinolones in addition to all beta-lactams.
Conclusions: The study provides evidence of EMRSA-15 mucosal carriage in veterinary staff and hospitalized dogs, with the risk of MRSA carriage in veterinary staff being significantly higher than reported for the UK healthy community. EMRSA-15 was predominant in the hospital environment, including humans, dogs, and inanimate objects, but the mode by which the strain was introduced and spread remains uncertain.