Objective— To evaluate the prevalence of, and risk factors for, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) colonization in veterinary personnel.
Study Design— Cross-sectional study.
Sample Population— Conference attendees (n=341) at the 2008 American College of Veterinary Surgeons Symposium in San Diego California.
Methods— Nasal swabs were collected and tested using selective culture for MRSA. Isolates were typed and risk factors were evaluated using questionnaire data.
Results— 17.3% of subjects (17% veterinarians and 18% technicians) were MRSA positive. Colonized individuals originated from 5 different countries, predominantly the United States and Canada. Contact with small ruminants in the preceding 30 days (odds ratio [OR] 2.2), living with a person diagnosed with MRSA in the preceding year (OR 19.8) and working in a clinic where there is a specific person in charge of the infection control program (OR 2.2) were associated with colonization using multivariable analysis.
Conclusion— The high rate of colonization identified here provides more evidence that MRSA exposure is likely an occupational risk for veterinary personnel. The equal rates in small animal and large animal personnel were surprising and contradict earlier studies indicating greater rates among equine personnel. The association of MRSA and small ruminant contact has not been reported previously.
Clinical Relevance— MRSA is an important emerging pathogen in veterinary medicine and is a concern for both patients and veterinary personnel. The high colonization rate indicates the need to understand and control the spread of MRSA in veterinary clinics.