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Pets can get MRSA from their owners

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MRSA, the microbe also known as the flesh eating bacterium, not only infects humans, but can also be transmitted from people to animals and then back again.

"In a study this summer in The American Journal of Infection Control, Elizabeth A. Scott and her colleagues at the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons College in Boston swabbed household surfaces like kitchen and bathtub drains, faucet handles, toilets, high chairs, trash cans and kitchen sponges at 35 randomly selected addresses to see what germs they would find. They found MRSA in nearly half of the homes they sampled.

When they tried to figure out what might make it more likely to have the bacteria at home, they ruled out many supposed risk factors, including working out at a gym, having children who attended day care, having a recent infection or recent antibiotic use, and even working in a health care facility.

The one variable that overwhelmingly predicted the presence of the germ was the presence of a cat. Cat owners were eight times more likely than others to have MRSA at home.

“There are a number of papers coming out now showing that pets pick up MRSA from us,” Dr. Scott said, “and that they shed it back into the environment again.”

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