Screening for skin carriage of methicillin-resistant coagulase-positive staphylococci and Staphylococcus schleiferi in dogs with healthy and inflamed skin


  • This study was funded by a grant from the Canine Health Foundation of the American Kennel Club.

  • The work was presented at the North American Veterinary Dermatology Forum 2007 and an abstract was published in Veterinary Dermatology 2007; 18: 181.

Gregory C. Griffeth, DVM, Matthew J Ryan Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, 3900 Delancey Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. E-mail:


Methicillin resistance rates of 41% for Staphylococcus aureus, 16% for S. intermedius, and 40% for S. schleiferi have recently been reported in canine patients. These were deemed to be reflective of referral and clinician-selection biases, which would imply significantly lower methicillin-resistant staphylococcal carriage rates in less-biased canine populations. In this study, swabs for bacterial culture were collected from five cutaneous sites on each of 50 healthy dogs and 59 dogs with inflammatory skin disease to determine prevalence of carriage and relative frequency of methicillin resistance in coagulase-positive staphylococci and S. schleiferi ssp. schleiferi. These were identified morphologically and by Gram's staining, catalase and coagulase testing, and biochemical speciation. Coagulase-positive staphylococci and S. schleiferi ssp. schleiferi were isolated from 88% (52 of 59) of affected dogs. Species identified in the culture-positive dogs were: S. aureus in 12%, S. intermedius (92%), S. schleiferi ssp. schleiferi (10%), and S. schleiferi ssp. coagulans (10%) with methicillin resistance rates of 17%, 8%, 20% and 20%, respectively. Coagulase-positive staphylococci were isolated from 74% (37 of 50) of healthy dogs: S. aureus (16%), S. intermedius (92%) and S. schleiferi ssp. coagulans (5%). Methicillin resistance rates were 0%, 3% and 50%, respectively. Of total methicillin-resistant isolates, 11 of 13 were positive for PBP2a via latex agglutination. Methicillin-resistant S. intermedius and S. schleiferi ssp. schleiferi isolates were all positive for the mecA gene via PCR. There was no significant difference in staphylococcal isolation or methicillin resistance between study groups. While present, methicillin-resistant coagulase-positive staphylococci are significantly less common in these less-biased populations than in the clinical isolates previously reported from this institution which provided the impetus for this study.