Therapy dogs assist ease stress in younger sufferers with cancer, however can unfold methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), placing weak youngsters in danger for a critical an infection. Cleaning the dogs with particular antibacterial shampoo and wipes reduces MRSA carriage and helps hold the children secure, suggests a first-of-its-kind research offered at IDWeek 2018.
The therapy program within the research options specifically skilled dogs who go to with younger sufferers receiving outpatient cancer remedy at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Children’s Hospital. The dogs take part in quite a few one-on-one and group visits all through the day, typically shifting between departments or different hospitals throughout the similar day. The research was the primary to analyze a brand new protocol to scale back the unfold of MRSA by ridding the dogs of the bug – known as decolonization – which included shampooing them with antibiotic chlorohexidine earlier than the primary go to of the day and utilizing chlorohexidine wipes each 5 to 10 minutes throughout visits.
“It’s amazing to watch just how excited the children get when they see the dogs for the first time, and they enjoy petting, hugging, kissing and playing fetch with them. The visits are really helpful in easing their anxiety and stress,” stated Kathryn Dalton, VMD, MPH, a PhD candidate within the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore. “But because they go from session to session the dogs can pick up and spread MRSA. We found this simple, low-cost intervention helps increase patient safety while still ensuring that young patients with cancer can benefit from these therapy dogs.”
While MRSA carriage normally does not lead to an infection in wholesome individuals, the danger of an infection is larger for individuals whose immune system is weakened, corresponding to those that are being handled for cancer.
All 45 sufferers with cancer (ages 2 to 20) and 4 dogs within the research had been examined for MRSA carriage earlier than and after group therapy visits. The dogs weren’t decolonized for seven management classes and the researchers discovered that Four sufferers (15.Four p.c) turned MRSA carriers after a go to as did 3 (42.9 p.c) of the dogs. In the 6 intervention classes (for which the dogs had been decolonized) 1 affected person (4.5 p.c) turned a MRSA provider after the go to as did 2 dogs (33.Three p.c).
The research additionally discovered that sufferers who interacted intently with the dogs – corresponding to by petting, hugging, brushing the fur and spending extra time – had been six occasions extra possible to turn into MRSA carriers than those that did not work together intently. But as soon as the dogs had been decolonized, the danger for changing into MRSA carriers was no completely different within the shut interplay group.
“This intervention not only decreases MRSA transmission from the therapy dog to the patient, but also indirectly between patients or from the hospital environment to patients, with the dog as an intermediary,” stated Dr. Dalton. “Decolonization is inexpensive and fast – it can be done by hospital staff or even the dog handler – and improves patients’ and dogs’ safety.”
Children with lively MRSA an infection will not be allowed to take part within the canine therapy program. Further research by the analysis crew will take a look at whether or not any of the children who had been colonized finally developed a MRSA an infection, in addition to to increase this intervention to different hospitals and departments to decide if the decolonization procedure works in different settings.