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Why should I wash my hands?

Washing your hands properly with soap and warm water is the single most important thing you can do to help reduce the spread of infections between you and your pet.  This is because:

  • People’s hands are the most common way germs are spread.  Although these germs can be harmless they can also be ones that can transmit diseases like tummy bugs and MRSA/MRSP between pets and people.
  • MRSA/MRSP is also called ‘RB’ or resistant bacteria – this is a general term that we use within this website.
  • In healthy people/animals that are carriers the bacteria are usually harmless.
  • Healthy people and pets can carry resistant bacteria in their noses, mouths or on their skin.
  • Staphylococcus aureus are bacteria that are often found on the skin and nose of healthy people – about 3 in 10 people have this bacterium living on their skin.  MRSA is ‘shorthand’ for any strain of Staphylococcus bacteria that are resistant to one or more of the conventional antibiotics. Around 40% of cases ofStaphylococcus aureus in the UK are resistant to methicillin and other antibiotics.
  • If the bacteria invade the skin, usually through a graze or cut, it can cause a skin infection.  If it passes into the blood stream it can cause septicaemia, pneumonia,bone infections and heart disease.
  • That means these bacteria can spread from people to pets through skin contact and through touching contaminated equipment and then touching a pet.
  • If your pet is ill with another disease, remember that they will be more susceptible to other illnesses.
  • If your pet is ill with resistant bacteria, then good hand washing is a vital component in helping your pet recover from this infection and keeping you and your family healthy.
  • This is because you will inevitably touch your pet and then touch something else, like a door handle.  Someone else touches that and then the infectious cyclecontinues.
  • It’s important not to wear rings when you’re handling your pet as bacteria can lurk under jewellery.

It’s something that should become part of your pet handling regime at all time – good hand hygiene will help stop the spread of infections before they become too serious.

We should always wash our hands in between touching pets and that’s especially so if a pet has MRSA.

Author – Elaine Pendlebury BA BSc  BVetMed DMS MRCVS  Senior Veterinary Surgeon (Science & Welfare) PDSA

Did you know...

Surgical sites, cuts or grazes can become infected by bacteria falling from the skin into the wound, from contaminated hands or instruments, or by droplets from an uncovered mouth or nose.

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