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Pet Bites Causing MRSA Infection in People, Study Finds

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By David Goguen on July 06, 2009 3:18 PM

Bites and scratches from dogs and other animals are infecting people with an antibiotic-resistant strain of staph bacteria, a new study finds. Now is a good time for dog owners and parents to take steps to prevent the occurrence of dog and animal bites.

In hospitals and veterinarian offices across the country, there is a rising number in cases of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections shared between pets and humans, according to the study Bite-Related and Septic Syndromes Caused by Cats and Dogs, published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

These MRSA infections are commonly spread through bites and scratches from animals, but they may also be spread from humans to animals, according to the Seattle Times: "Dogs used for hospital and nursing-home visits test positive for MRSA more often then other animals. And that could be because MRSA can be contracted from people who have open wounds or scratches."

In April, we offered the Top 5 Dog Bite Prevention Tips for Owners, Parents, and Kids. Given the latest news on the MRSA "superbug" scare, now is a good time to re-visit these safety tips -- which include information on training and socializing your own dog, and advice on how parents and kids can safely make friends with someone else's dog.

According to the New York Daily News, dog and cat bites account for one percent of all emergency room visits, with 20 percent of bites involving dogs that have not been neutered.

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