Therapy Dogs to Superbugs

Therapy Dogs to Superbugs

Ella Ward

Children who spend a lot of time with dogs may be infected with superbugs. Studies say that dogs may cause an infection risk to dog-lovers with weakened immune systems.


Therapy dogs provide affection and protection to individuals in hospitals, retirement homes, and nursing homes. They help people who have learning difficulties and are faced with numerous stressful situations. These dogs definitely love to socialize with humans!

Superbugs are strains of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotic drugs. Each year, these drug-resistant bacteria infect more than 2 million people. At least 23,000 people, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have been killed. Tuberculosis, staph infection, and gonorrhea are a few examples of the impact superbugs have on human health. Superbugs not only affect people, but they are also attacking therapy dogs.


Informing children about a topic like this is necessary. Sophia Kutchi, a freshman, suggests, “You could put up posters or when the therapy dogs come, they could talk about it before you come visit.”


Even though therapy dogs ease anxiety and stress, there have been numerous reports of superbug MRSA on healthy-looking therapy dogs.


“Whether covered in fur, feathers or scales, animals have the potential to carry germs that make people sick,” said Casey Barton Behravesh of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria (MRSA), often live on the skin and without causing symptoms. They become more dangerous when they enter the bloodstream, destroying heart valves or causing other damages. Studies have shown that MRSA is tied to 11,000 deaths in the U.S each year.


The more time kids spend with therapy dogs, the more bacteria they could be exposed to.


Hospitals believe that it is a person-to-person transmission, although, it happens through contact with fur. Researchers commented that the dogs were generally clean of MRSA when they came to the hospital, but it was picked up from patients or other people.


Under hospital protocol, the dogs must be bathed within a day of the visit with special shampoo. They must be checked for wounds or other health problems. They have the dogs patted down with disinfecting wipes every ten minutes at the hospital. Children are ordered to use hand sanitizer before and after visits. These steps to prevent the issue have dramatically decreased the bacteria levels on the therapy dogs and there are hopes that each cleaning will reduce any risk of superbug infection.


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