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Review of the 1st International Conference on MRSA in Animals

Around 65 delegates attended the First International Conference on MRSA in Animals held on the 21st and 22nd of June at the Leahurst Campus of the University of Liverpool. The event, which was organised jointly by the University of Liverpool and The Bella Moss Foundation, brought together some of the veterinary world’s leading authorities on aspects of MRSA and who presented new information of great importance to veterinarians around the globe.

By RICHARD DENE

The event was opened by Dr Susan Dawson from the University and Jill Moss, President and founder of The Bella Moss Foundation.

The main speakers included Professor David Lloyd of the Royal Veterinary College, who gave an overview of the situation affecting small animals, Dr Scott Weese of the Ontario Veterinary College who presented new information on the developments in horse care, Professor Wolfgang Witte from Robert Koch Institute, Germany, who spoke on the various strains of MRSA affecting horses, Dr Tim Nuttall of the University of Liverpool who gave a detailed account of infection control procedures needed in veterinary practices, Dr Mark Enright of Imperial College, London who detailed the genetic aspects of MRSA, Professor Tony Hart, also of Liverpool University who covered the situation in human healthcare, and Professor Peter Hawkey from the Health Protection Agency who spoke on improvements in analysing MRSA in the laboratory.

Paul Gayford of DEFRA chaired a general discussion at the end of the event and from this discussion came a working party to actively take forward issues that had been raised.

Major support for the event came from DEFRA, Petplan, Bayer Healthcare, Medichem and Vetoquinol.

Jill Moss said, “This was an extremely important event for the veterinary world. All aspects of veterinary concern about MRSA were addressed and the information that was presented will have a major impact on veterinary care over the next few years as it filters down to the grass roots.

“Two very positive things came out of this meeting. The first was that we were able to bring together human health experts as well as those in the veterinary world, and we believe strongly that both need to work in concert to achieve success. The second was that very positive information was presented showing that animals have the ability to overcome MRSA quickly if they are healthy. We were also very pleased to hear of new techniques in analysing MRSA that will improve our ability to deal with it.”

The event also heard that new MRSA strains continue to appear, that older strains show the ability to develop new defences to antibiotics, and that MRSA rates are increasing even in countries where they are currently low.

“MRSA is no longer seen as something we can ignore or treat lightly,” said Jill. “It is a serious problem that we have to get to grips with, and this event showed that, around the world, researchers and clinicians are working very hard to find the answers we need.”

Jill also said that although the knowledge presented at the conference was important and encouraging, it will take time to reach practicing vets. “We want to create a direct link between researchers and practitioners,” she said, “and so our plan is to develop a series of events that are accessible to vets and pet owners because it is only by bringing all sides together that we will make a real difference to the health and treatment of our companion pets.”