P. multocida transmitted through casual pet contact


Veterinarians are advised to take precautions against the bacteria Pasteurella multocida as a New England Journal of Medicine article reveals the microbe can be transmitted through somewhat casual contact with pets.

San Francisco-Veterinarians are advised to take precautions againstthe bacteria Pasteurella multocida as a New England Journal of Medicinearticle reveals the microbe can be transmitted through somewhat casual contactwith pets.

Once believed to be transmitted only through the saliva of animal bites,an investigation at the University of California, San Francisco (UC) revealsa post-surgical infection occurred in a patient's neck wound after he sleptwith his dogs.

The 59-year-old acquired an infection five days after being dischargedfollowing surgery. Blood cultures in the man revealed P. multocida microbesthat matched the bacterial strains found in his pets, the Journal's August16 article states.

"Our epidemiological analysis strongly suggests that the sourceof the surgical-site infection in this patient was one or both of his petdogs," the researchers write. "This organism could have been acquiredpreoperatively and carried symptomatically by the patient However, it isplausible that the surgical wound was contaminated after hospital discharge."

In the veterinary clinic

Although there are few documented cases of DVM infections, many animalscan harbor P. multocida germs and veterinarians should take precautionarymeasures, says the article's co-author Laurel Gibbs, MT.

"Unless the veterinarian actually has open cuts, gets a bite oris in an immune deficient state, the incidence is rare," Gibbs says."It's interesting that you don't hear about more infection from vets,probably because they're aware that this organism resides in the mouthsof animals, but it's still a concern.

"We were alarmed because this bacteria is not normally picked upin a hospital. We don't see this organism frequently, but when we do, it'susually associated with a bite. That's why it was so strange to see thisin a surgical case and that it can be transmitted this way."

To avoid P. multocida infections, Gibbs advises veterinarians wash theirhands in between patients and to keep examination areas sterile.

"Veterinarians are aware of picking up dogs germs so this is somethingI'm sure they already know," she says. "But it's good to knowthat this bacteria is out there and that it can be picked up not only inbites, but in cuts and scrapes, too."

Symptoms of P. multocida infection include redness, swelling and lightdischarge from the wound area. The sensitive organism usually can be eradicatedwith penicillin.

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