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Is Fluffy causing staph infections? Mizzou vets studying

By Julie Bierach, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Veterinarians at the University of Missouri are investigating whether the family pet could be a reservoir for antibiotic resistant bacteria that causes a type of staph infection.

It comes as doctors are seeing a dramatic increase in community acquired staph infections. That's where an antibiotic-resistant bacteria was not contracted as a result of surgery or hospitalization.

University of Missouri veterinarian Stephanie Kottler says humans may pass the bacteria to their pets, which then harbor it. And if a person becomes infected, the pet could potentially cause treatment failure.

"So the person's treated with antibiotics and then acquires the infection again," notes Kottler. "And some people think that's because the animal in the household could be passing it back and forth."

The bacteria live in the noses or on the skin of humans and animals. It becomes dangerous when it enters the tissue through a cut or puncture.

"There's a difference between just carrying the bacteria and being infected," adds Kottler. "What we're looking to see is how common it is for people to just carry the bacteria."