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MRSA

MRSA Superbug Found on Public Beaches

Thursday, January 14, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: MRSA, beaches, health news


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(NaturalNews) Public beaches may provide a home for and mechanism for the spread of the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington and presented to the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

"Our results suggest that public beaches may be a reservoir for possible transmission of MRSA," lead researcher Marilyn Roberts said.

MRSA is a drug-resistant form to the common Staph infection that can lead to severe and even lethal side effects if left untreated. Once a problem largely confined to hospitals, MRSA has spread beyond health care settings in recent years. This new prevalence, combined with its evolved ability to infect healthier people, has led to a situation where MRSA now kills more people in the United States each year than AIDS.

Researchers tested 10 public beaches on the Puget Sound and identified 13 different varieties of Staph bacteria spread over nine of them. Seven of these varieties were multidrug resistant. Five of the MRSA samples appeared most similar to hospital varieties, suggesting that some form of contamination was responsible for their presence.

People may be infected with Staph bacteria without developing symptoms. These carriers can in turn infect others. Carriers may have been responsible for the two MRSA varieties that did not appear to come from hospitals, but the researchers could not be sure.

Roberts said that the MRSA probably entered the beaches due to environmental contamination.

"Where all of these organisms are coming from and how they're getting seeded (on the beaches) is not clear," she said. Two beaches tested in southern California were not contaminated.

Nevertheless, the method of sampling that Roberts and colleagues used is not likely to capture every different Staph variety at a given beach.

"The fact that we found these organisms suggests that the amount is much higher than we previously thought," she said.

Sources for this story include: www.usatoday.com.

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