• horse;
  • methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA);
  • nosocomial infection;
  • community-associated infection


Reasons for performing study: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an emerging veterinary and zoonotic pathogen, associated with increasing reports of disease in horses.

Objectives: To provide an overview of the characteristics of clinical MRSA infections in horses.

Methods: A retrospective case study was performed on 115 horses admitted to 6 participating veterinary teaching hospitals in Canada and the United States between 2000 and 2006, and diagnosed with clinical MRSA infection. Descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariable analyses for community- (CA) vs. hospital-associated (HA) MRSA infections, and survival vs. nonsurvival at discharge were performed.

Results: The age range of MRSA-infected horses was zero (born in hospital) to 31 years. HA (58/114, 50.9%) and CA infections (56/114, 49.1%) were equally common. Infection of surgical incisions was most frequently reported (44/115, 38.0%). Overall 93/111 (83.8%) cases survived to discharge. Previous hospitalisation and treatment with gentamicin were associated significantly with CA-MRSA, whereas infected incision sites were associated significantly with HA-MRSA. Factors significantly associated with nonsurvival included i.v. catheterisation, CA-MRSA infection and dissemination of infection to other body sites.

Conclusions: Equine MRSA infections have a broad range of clinical presentations, appear to be primarily opportunistic and the overall prognosis for survival to discharge is good.

Potential relevance: These results should help direct future research with regard to investigation of risk factors for equine MRSA infection in community and hospital populations.