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Objectives: To characterise the distribution of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus within the environment of a university small animal hospital and compare this with the distribution among staff.

Methods: Samples were collected from 140 environmental sites and the anterior nares of 64 staff members at the University of Glasgow Small Animal Hospital on a single day (d1). Sixty of the environmental sites were resampled 14 days later (d14).

Results: Meticillin-resistant S aureus was isolated from two of 140 (1·4 per cent; 95 per cent confidence interval: 1·7 to 5·1) environmental sites on d1 and one of 60 (1·7 per cent; 95 per cent confidence interval: 0·4 to 8·9) on d14. Two of the 64 staff sampled were positive for meticillin-resistant S aureus (3·1 per cent; 95 per cent confidence interval: 0·4 to 8·4).

Clinical Significance: A lower prevalence of meticillin-resistant S aureus was observed in the environment than previously reported. The location, relatedness between isolates and the presence of Panton-Valentine leucocidin indicates that the source of the environmental meticillin-resistant S aureus was most likely to have been human rather than animal in these cases. This study presents important information regarding the potential source and distribution of meticillin-resistant S aureus within veterinary hospital environments and highlights potential variability of prevalence of meticillin-resistant S aureus within and between veterinary institutions.