MSRA Outbreak, One of a Kind

An investigation into an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant skin infections at the San Diego Wild Animal Park last year reveals new details about a rare transmission of a staph infection from a zoo animal to a human caretaker.

“This is the first reported case of MRSA in an elephant and of suspected MRSA transmission from an animal to human caretakers at a zoo,” the report stated.

The outbreak began when a zookeeper infected an elephant calf that was being hand-raised because its mother couldn't care for it, according to the report.

“Because of loss of milk by the mother, the calf was separated from its mother on December 24 and hand-reared by zoo caretakers in an individual stall of the African elephant enclosure,” according to the report.

The calf then infected as many as 20 of its human caretakers.

The female calf was less than 10 weeks old when she was euthanized on Feb. 4, 2008. All of the ill keepers recovered, according to the report.

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