Objective: To describe MRSA infection and colonization in household pets, and transmission of MRSA between animals and humans.
Methods: MRSA infection and colonization in household pets and human contacts were evaluated during investigations initiated after identification of MRSA infection or colonization of a household pet in order to determine if there had been transmission between animals and humans. All MRSA isolates were screened for Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) genes by use of polymerase chain reaction, and isolate relatedness was determined by use of pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
Results: Investigations of six situations where MRSA was identified in one or more animals in a household or veterinary facility were performed. MRSA was isolated from 8 animals (5 dogs and 3 cats) with clinical infections, 1 cat that was in contact with 2 infected cats and 14/88 (16%) of household contacts or veterinary personnel. Both animal-to-human and human-to-animal transmission were suspected. An indistinguishable MRSA isolate was recovered from at least one human that was in contact with each animal case. All isolates were classified as Canadian epidemic MRSA-2, the predominant community-associated MRSA clone in humans in Canada. No isolates possessed genes encoding for the PVL.
Conclusions: Transmission of MRSA between humans and animals, in both directions, was suspected. MRSA appears to be an emerging veterinary and zoonotic pathogen.