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Woman and Cat Shared 'Super Bug'
Date:3/12/2008

Researchers think it's likely woman was first infected with dangerous germ,,,,

WEDNESDAY, March 12 (HealthDay News) -- People share their homes, their food and more with their pets, but one thing you probably never thought you could share with your animals is a drug-resistant staph infection.

However, according to a letter in the March 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, a German family appears to have done just that. Doctors were puzzled when a woman was repeatedly treated for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), yet still kept coming back with the infection.

Eventually, they discovered that the family cat was harboring the dangerous bacteria, sometimes called a "super bug."

"Animals and especially pets or companion animals might serve as reservoirs for human-pathogenic bacteria," said Dr. Andreas Sing, head of the department of infectiology at the Bavarian Food and Health Safety Authority in Germany.

Before you give puss the boot, know that researchers believe it was the woman who probably initially transmitted the bacteria to the cat, not the other way around.

About 25 percent to 30 percent of Americans are colonized with staph bacteria, but only about 1 percent are colonized with MRSA, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most MRSA infections occur in health-care settings, such as hospitals or nursing homes, but the number of community-acquired infections is growing. According to the CDC, about 12 percent of all MRSA infections are now acquired in the community.

MRSA spreads through skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, but its transmission has also been associated with contaminated surfaces, crowded living conditions and poor hygiene, according to the CDC.

MRSA infections often look like a boil or an inflamed pimple, and may be red, swollen and draining pus, the CDC said.

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