Therapy Dogs Can Spread MRSA in Hospitals—But Shampooing Can Help

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Courtesy of Kathryn Dalton, VMD MPH

Courtesy of Kathryn Dalton, VMD MPH

Kathryn Dalton, VMD MPH
AKC CHF Fellow
PhD Student, Davis Lab
Environmental Health and Engineering
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Animal-assisted interventions (or AAI for short) have become increasing popular in hospitals for the emotional and physical benefits they bring to patients. But there is a risk that these therapy dogs could potential spread infectious germs, including MRSA (methicillin-resistantStaphylococcus aureus), to patients.

Our study found that therapy dogs can spread MRSA to patients, and children who had more contact with the therapy dog were at higher risk of getting MRSA. But, we used a new cleaning protocol on the dog with an anti-septic shampoo before the visit and anti-septic wipes during the visit. Patients who had more contact with the dog did not have a higher risk of MRSA when the dog was giving this new cleaning protocol, which made the AAI therapy visits safer for the patients. In addition, the patients’ emotional and physical benefits we observed were not changed by using this dog cleaning protocol.       Continue reading