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Aust Vet J. 2011 May;89(5):152-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-0813.2011.00710.x.

Carriage of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus by veterinarians in Australia.

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  • 1Industry & Investment NSW, Wollongbar, New South Wales 2477, Australia.



To estimate the prevalence of carriage of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) among Australian veterinarians.


Individuals attending veterinary conferences in Australia in 2009 were recruited to provide nasal swabs and complete a questionnaire about their professional activities. Swabs were processed by standard methods for detecting MRSA and questionnaire responses were used to group veterinarians according to their areas of major work emphasis (species and practice type). Prevalence was estimated for each of these grouping and contingency tables and regression tree analysis used to explain the variation in MRSA carriage.


Among the 771 respondents 'industry and government veterinarians' (controls) had the lowest prevalence of MRSA carriage at 0.9%. Veterinarians with horses as a major area of work emphasis had a prevalence of 11.8% (13-fold that of controls) and those whose only major emphasis was horses had a prevalence of 21.4% (23-fold that of controls). Veterinarians with dogs and cats as a major activity had a 4.9% prevalence (5-fold that of controls). Prevalence rates for other major activities (pigs, dairy and beef cattle, avian and wildlife) were also increased, but were estimated from smaller numbers of respondents. Regression tree analysis clearly isolated equine veterinarians and dog and cat practitioners as groups at increased risk of carriage of MRSA.


Carriage of MRSA is a notable occupational health issue for veterinarians in clinical practice in Australia, particularly those who work with horses.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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