Dec 03 2019

MRSP: Antibiotic resistant skin infections in dogs and cats

We have seen increased cases in the past several months of MRSP. Check out the Information below to learn more about this bacteria.

What is MRSP?

MRSP stands for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius.

The antibiotic resistant ‘superbug’ MRSA or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus is a commonly reported type of bacterial infection in people. Dogs only rarely acquire this infection but more commonly acquire the similar MRSP. Just as MRSA infections are challenging to treat in people, MRSP infections may cause persistent infections in dogs.

Staphylococcus pseudintermedius is a common bug on the skin of many normal dogs. This bug is usually harmless but will cause infections under certain circumstances (eg if a dog is scratching the skin due to fleas or allergies, wounds on the skin).

Staph infections can usually be treated effectively with a course of everyday antibiotics, such as penicillins or cephalosporins. However, with MRSP infections, these antibiotics don’t work.

Methicillin refers to a single antibiotic to which the staph bacteria is resistant. However, most MRSP bacteria that are resistant to methicillin are also resistant to many other commonly used antibiotics. In some cases veterinarians have few or no effective antibiotics available to treat these infections.


How do I know if my dog or cat has MRSP?

There is no way to tell by looking at a skin infection whether it is caused by MRSP or another bacteria. Regardless of the particular type of bacteria, bacterial skin infections cause the skin to become more pink or red than normal. There are often circular areas of hair loss. In some cases, small pustules will form on the skin and scaling or crusting will be noted on the surface of the skin. The skin is usually itchy and may have an odour.

A veterinarian can take samples from the skin and send the bacteria for culturing. This process grows the bacteria on a plate in a lab, so that laboratory testing can identify the type of bacteria.

The bacteria are then further tested by exposing the colonies to different antibiotics and determining whether the bacteria survive. A bacterial colony is considered resistant if it survives when exposed to an antibiotic that would normally kill it.

Any dog or cat that has repeated or persistent bacterial infections should consider having a culture test on their pet’s skin.


How can MRSP infections be treated?

In many cases there will still be a few remaining effective antibiotics for a veterinarian to choose from. When used properly, and for a sufficient duration, these antibiotics will typically clear the infection. Whenever antibiotics are prescribed, it is important to follow the directions carefully and complete the recommended course, even if the infection appears to have cleared before the course is finished.

It is important that other complicating factors are controlled, such as inflammation in the skin due to allergies, and concurrent infections from fungus, fleas, or mites.

Topical treatments including antibiotic ointments, and medicated shampoos, sprays, and wipes with antiseptic ingredients are also used in the arsenal against MRSP and other infections.


Can I get MRSP from my pet?

It appears to be rare for MRSP to spread from pets to people. However, precautions should still be taken if your pet is diagnosed with MRSP.

Thorough hand washing after interacting with your pet will remove the bacteria from normal hands. Reducing exposure where possible is also recommended – don’t let your pet lick you, especially in the face, and sleep separately from your pet. Remove your pet’s stool from the environment promptly.

Exposure to the bacteria can be reduced by frequently laundering and hot air drying your pet’s bedding and toys, and thorough regular cleaning of food dishes and litter boxes.

Also avoid exposing your MRSP positive pet to people with weaker immune systems, such as very young children, elderly people, pregnant women, and people who are immunosuppressed due to illness or chemotherapy.


Can my MRSP positive dog spread the bacteria to other dogs?

Yes. Precautions should be taken to avoid close contact with other dogs. Avoid letting your pet attend areas where many other dogs frequent including parks and beaches.


Please contact us today if you have any questions or concerns related to this topic.


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