[From Tufts January 2010 Issue]
Generally, dogs give far more diseases to people than vice versa. “There are very few diseases that dogs can contract from people,” says Scott Shaw, DVM, at Cummings School. One notable exception is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Today, it’s occasionally being diagnosed in dogs.
The infection, which affects the skin and other areas, is the 10th leading cause of human deaths in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t track canine deaths from MRSA.
Many people asymptomatically carry the infection, passing it to others through direct contact. “When dogs contract MRSA, they have almost always acquired if from a person rather than another animal,” Dr. Shaw says.
People with weakened immune systems, health care workers and those in crowded conditions are especially susceptible, as are dogs living with them. The chances of a person contracting MRSA from contact with a dog are slim.