Tuesday, May 29, 2007

MRSA is a Growing Threat to Public Health

Via themoneytimes.com -

A new study has found that drug resistant staph infection (Staphylococcus Aureus) has spread to urban poor in Chicago. The researchers reports a seven fold increase in patients with MRSA infections at Stroger Hospital’s emergency room and Cook County medical clinics between 2000 and 2005.

According to the study, the incidence of CA-MRSA skin and soft tissue infections increased from 24 cases per 100,000 people in 2000 to 164.2 cases per 100,000 people in 2005.

Until the late 1990s, MRSA was found exclusively in hospitals. Beginning in 1998, a community-associated form of the bacteria (CA-MRSA) emerged globally, with more potential toxins than hospital-acquired MRSA. Risk factors for CA-MRSA include jail or prison time, exposure while playing certain sports, intravenous drug use, overcrowded housing, tattooing and poor hygiene.

MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a potentially virulent bacteria that doesn't respond to several antibiotics used to treat common staph infections. People struck by the bug frequently develop painful skin boils or abscesses and, in rare circumstances, deadly pneumonias, blood infections and other life-threatening conditions.

"MRSA is becoming epidemic in the community," warned Dr. Bala Hota, the lead author and assistant professor of infectious diseases at Rush University Medical Center.

"It's unknown why USA300 (the MRSA strain dominant in Chicago) is so good at spreading in communities or where it comes from or even how it's transmitted.

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