Controlling Staphylococcus in the veterinary hospital

With the rapid emergence of methicillin-resistant strains of Stapylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP), the potential for nosocomial infections should be addressed by every veterinary hospital with a formal, written infection control program.  Most of the control measures for MR staphylococci are applicable to control of many other pathogens. These recommendations are of particular importance when dealing with veterinary dermatology patients, which have a relatively high prevalence of MRSP infections in many geographic regions.

Here is a brief outline of the components of an infection control program of MRSP:

  1. Surveillance.  The most practical method of surveillance for veterinary hospitals is the passive surveillance of available data.  A step that all veterinary hospitals can readily implement is compiling all culture data in order to identify disease trends.  Environmental cultures, on the other hand, are a waste of resources.
  2. Cleaning and disinfecting the environment. Although we don’t yet know the role of environmental transmission of MRSP, it makes sense to treat the hospital as a possible source. Using disinfectants effective against methicillin-susceptible staph will kill MRSP as well.  Products should be used at proper dilutions and with adequate contact time. Take special care to clean after patients known or suspected to carry MRSP.
  3. Personal protective equipment.  Laboratory coats, disposable aprons and gloves are examples of PPE that is intended to prevent contamination of the wearer’s clothing or skin.  These items may be underutilized in veterinary hospitals because we are afraid to offend owners.
  4. Hand hygiene.  Either hand washing or alcohol-based hand sanitizers should be used before handling patients, after contamination of the hands, after removing gloves, and after patient contact.
  5. Patient flow and design. Ideally, dermatology patients, with a relatively high rate of MRSP infection, should be kept separate from other patient groups.  This is not feasible in many hospitals, but one should consider environmental cleaning of common areas after dermatology patients.
  6. Judicious use of antimicrobials. Exposure to antibiotics is a risk factor for developing MRSP.  Ideally, antibiotics are prescribed when needed, for only as long as needed, and at effective doses based on culture and susceptibility testing.

A more detailed infection control discussion is available at


About skinvet

Jon Plant, DVM, is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Dermatology, founder of SkinVet Clinic and developer of RESPIT, regionally-specific immunotheray for atopic dermatitis of dogs and cats. He is a member of the International Committee on Atopic Diseases of Animals, the past President of the Portland Veterinary Medical Association and the Dermatology Section Editor of the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association.
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1 Response to Controlling Staphylococcus in the veterinary hospital

  1. drbenjamino says:

    Hi Dr. Plant, I 100% agree with this article. I think it is something over looked by many and needs to be addressed. Unfortunately, resistant infections are on the rise and can have really significant consequences. Thank you for posting this!

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