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Swimming May Be Route for MRSA Exposure

Friday, May 01, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: MRSA, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) A simple swim at the beach may expose people to the potentially deadly bacteria known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Miami and presented at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago.

"Staphylococcus are shed by individuals into the waters and if you do go into these waters you are likely to be exposed," lead researcher Lisa Plano said.

Researchers recruited 1,303 volunteers to visit a beach far away from any sewage outlets, and instructed half of the participants to sit on the beach for 15 minutes. The other participants were instructed to go out into the ocean and collect water samples in sterilized jugs. The researchers then analyzed the water in the jugs, finding that 37 percent of water samples contained at least one strain of S. aureus. Three percent of S. aureus samples were antibiotic resistant strains, or MRSA - meaning that as many as one percent of swimmers are being exposed to MRSA.

"The majority of the isolated MRSA were those likely to be of the more aggressive variety," Plano said. "This exposure might lead to colonization or infection by water-borne bacteria, which are shed from every person who enters the water."

The researchers believe that the bacteria entered the water after being shed from the skin of swimmers. As many as 40 percent of people may be carriers of MRSA without becoming sick, as the bacteria only tends to cause infections when it enters deep wounds.

The study does not mean that going swimming at the beach is dangerous, Plano said, but she did recommend that all swimmers shower both before and after entering the water. This should help slough off any bacteria on the surface of the skin, thus preventing carriers from contaminating the water and others from becoming infected.

Sources for this story include: www.guardian.co.uk.

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