The bacteria is called PVL-producing MRSA, and it is a highly-virulent strain of Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as the staph infection. This strain of staph infection is resistant to drugs, and particularly vicious.
The strain of MRSA that produces PVL -- panton-valentine leukocidin toxin – decimates white blood cells and often causes boils to appear. But if it gets into an open wound or is strong enough, it starts the process for necrotizing pneumonia, which rapidly destroys lung tissue. The survival rate for necrotizing pneumonia is currently only 25 percent.
The superbug is strong enough to kill healthy young adults: In 2004, a young, fit British Royal Marine named Richard Campbell-Smith contracted the disease and died within three days.
In 2005, there were 106 cases of PVL-MRSA in England and Wales, including one confirmed death from the development of necrotizing pneumonia. So far, there have been fatalities in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Europe.
Mark Enright, a microbiologist at Imperial College, London, told the BBC that this strain of the disease probably evolved from a previous strain found in the 1950s that included PVL. That strain did not have the resistance to drugs that this one does.