Letters Easily missed skin infection

Don’t forget pets in PVL positive Staphylococcus aureus infection

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6338 (Published 12 October 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6338
  1. Kate Robertson, specialty doctor child and adolescent psychiatry1
  1. 1CAMHS (Shropshire), Shrewsbury SY1 3GZ, UK
  1. kate.robertson{at}doctors.org.uk

In their overview of Panton Valentine leukocidin (PVL) positive Staphylococcus aureus skin infections Fogo and colleagues note the emergence and rapid spread of multiresistant strains in North America and Australia.1 Household pets may have a role in transmission or act as reservoirs of infection. Methicillin-resistant S aureus (MRSA) has infected dogs, cats, poultry, pigs, horses, and cattle,2 and infection has been transmitted between humans and animals.3 In most veterinary practices infections are treated empirically with antibiotics, and PVL S aureus and MRSA are not routinely looked for.

Veterinarians know that animals may acquire MRSA from humans and that PVL positive S aureus from infected animals is a risk to vulnerable or immunocompromised humans; pet owners should be routinely asked if they work in healthcare.4 However, the drugs recommended for decolonisation in humans are not licensed for use in animals. What action should a concerned vet take?

People are intimate with pets: cats sleep on beds, dogs share sofas, and humans kiss animals. Contacts are potentially close and prolonged.5 Immunocompromised animals or those that are chronically ill and treated with many drugs may share their living space with humans, as well as the other way round. Patients would not necessarily tell their doctor about pets unless specifically asked. It may be worth asking. When do we need to consider decolonisation of household pets as well as human cohabitees?


Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6338


  • Competing interests: KR’s partner is a vet.


View Abstract

Sign in

Log in through your institution

Free trial

Register for a free trial to thebmj.com to receive unlimited access to all content on thebmj.com for 14 days.
Sign up for a free trial