MRSA In Homes Lets Staph Superbug Thrive Outside of Hospitals

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 07:28 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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A new study has found that MRSA or Methicillin-resistant "staph" in homes has contributed to the overall prevalence of the antibiotic-resistant superbug outside of hospitals and gyms, where it used to be most prevalent.

Scientific American reported that researchers were able to trace one strain of Staphylococcus aureus across the New York boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx though genome sequencing to discover that households can be active reservoirs for the bacterium.

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Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and the University of Cambridge, examined a strain of MRSA, USA300, which has caused an epidemic in northern Manhattan. USA300 alone was responsible for 3 out of 4 cases there in 2009.

The researchers, whose findings were published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, studied 161 infections contracted between 2009 and 2011 and found that the strain likely emerged in 1993 and spread to Manhattan multiple times from other states like California and Texas.

The findings seem to indicate that the household reservoirs are often seeded by venues traditionally associated with MRSA, and have prompted the researchers to propose new tests that might help us understand just how hospitals and the like are responsible for the spread into communities.

MRSA was traditionally confined to hospitals, nursing homes, barracks, prisons and other places where people reside in close quarters. However, since the late 1980s, it has spread beyond those venues.

The bugs spread through skin-to-skin contact or through sharing things like towels or sports equipment. It causes skin infections, some of which can be deadly.

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