BACKGROUND: Pets, often used as companionship and for psychological support in the therapy of nursing home residents, have been implicated as reservoirs for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. We investigated the importance of pets as reservoirs of multidrug-resistant (MDR) staphylococci in nursing homes.
METHODS: We assessed the carriage of MDR staphylococci in pets and in 2 groups of residents, those living in nursing homes with pets and those living without pet contacts. We collected demographic, health status, and human-pet contact data by means of questionnaires. We assessed potential bacteria transmission pathways by investigating physical resident-to-pet contact.
RESULTS: The observed prevalence of MDR staphylococci carriage was 84/229 (37%) in residents living with pets and 99/216 (46%) in those not living with pets (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 0.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.4-0.9). Active pet contact was associated with lower carriage of MDR staphylococci (aOR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.4-0.8). Antibiotic treatment during the previous 3 months was associated with significantly increased risk for MDR carriage in residents (aOR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.8-5.7).
CONCLUSIONS: We found no evidence that the previously reported benefits of pet contact are compromised by the increased risk of carriage of MDR staphylococci in residents associated with interaction with these animals in nursing homes. Thus, contact with pets, always under good hygiene standards, should be encouraged in these settings.