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Qualitative risk assessment of the acquisiton of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in pet dogs

Heller, J. and Kelly, L. and Reid, S.W.J. and Mellor, D.J. (2010) Qualitative risk assessment of the acquisiton of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in pet dogs. Risk Analysis, 30 (3). pp. 458-472. ISSN 0272-4332

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This article presents a qualitative risk assessment of the acquisition of meticillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in pet dogs, representing an important first step in the exploration of risk of bidirectional MRSA transfer between dogs and humans. A conceptual model of the seven potential pathways for MRSA acquisition in a dog in any given 24-hour period was developed and the data available to populate that model were considered qualitatively. Humans were found to represent the most important source of MRSA for dogs in both community and veterinary hospital settings. The environment was found to be secondary to humans in terms of importance and other dogs less still. This study highlights some important methodological limitations of a technique that is heavily relied upon for qualitative risk assessments and applies a novel process, the use of relative risk ranking, to enable the generation of a defensible output using a matrix combination approach. Given the limitations of the prescribed methods as applied to the problem under consideration, further validation, or repudiation, of the findings contained herein is called for using a subsequent quantitative assessment.