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How do we test for MRSA?

The only way to identify MRSA is to take a sample and analyse it in a laboratory.

A culture can identify the bacteria and find out which antibiotics will kill it. It is very important to identify the bacteria involved, and how they can be treated. This is important because otherwise it is likely that an ineffective antibiotic treatment will be used with the possibility that the infection will worsen.

Always discuss with your vet the benefit of taking swabs or a urine sample before prescribing broad spectrum antibiotics

MRSA can be tested for in various ways, but for pet owners the most important in terms of treatment is the one of Culture and Sensitivity. When a sample from an infection is sent by the vet it is grown in a small dish of nutrient gel (Culture) and then identified. Antimicrobial drugs are added to ascertain which ones kill it effectively (Sensitivity) and the results are then used to determine what treatment to use against the infection. The main difficulty comes if an infection has occurred internally and a sample cannot be obtained, in which case the vet will use his best judgement to work out the most likely bacteria present and treat accordingly.

Other methods of testing, such as the PCR assay test, can be used to identify the specific genetic features of a bacterium, but, to the pet owner, these are of less significance than knowing what antibiotic will be effective in treating an infection.

Did you know...

A small proportion of the general pet population carry MRSA or similar MDR bacteria, but the carriage rate in sick animals that have visited veterinary practices is higher.

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