Reducing MRSA transmission from therapy dogs for pediatric oncology patients

  • IDWeek 2018

  • curated by Emily Willingham, PhD
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Children with cancer can benefit from a therapy dog program if potential exposure to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is mitigated with a “simple” decolonization program.
  • Antibacterial shampoo and wipes result in significant transmission reduction, according to findings presented at IDWeek 2018 in San Francisco.

Why this matters

  • Therapy dogs help reduce stress and anxiety in these patients, but the risk of MRSA is real.
  • The simple protocol used here helps make interaction between the children and dogs possible.
  • “Because they go from session to session, the dogs can pick up and spread MRSA,” said Kathryn Dalton of Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. “This simple, low-cost intervention helps increase patient safety.”

Key results

  • Children who interacted with untreated dogs had an 8.01 greater odds (95% CI, 1.1-15.2) for increased risk of becoming MRSA carriers.
  • If dogs had been treated with wipes and shampoo, this increased risk disappeared.
  • Children interacting with the dogs had reduced BP, heart rate.

Study design

  • 45 children and 4 dogs were included in the study.
  • Dogs were shampooed with chlorhexidine, with wipes used every 5-10 minutes during visits, or not, and MRSA colonization evaluated.

Limitations

  • Conference report; not peer-reviewed.

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