Public Beaches Found to be Source of MRSA

Multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been labeled a “superbug.” There is the hospital acquired MRSA and community acquired MRSA. Now it seems that a new source is public beaches.

This news was presented by University of Washington researchers Saturday at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Francisco. They reported finding MRSA at five public beaches on the Puget Sound.

Marilyn Roberts, lead investigator, and colleague tested 10 beaches in Washington along the West Coast and in Puget Sound from February to September 2008. Staph bacteria were found at nine of them, including five with MRSA. The MRSA strains resembled the highly resistant ones usually seen in hospitals.

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) was first identified in the 1960’s. It is now prevalent in most hospitals. The organisms are resistant to multiple antibiotics (specifically, all antibiotics known as beta lactams, as well as other antibiotic families), and are therefore cause for considerable concern.

Community-acquired Staphylococcus aureus ( CA-MRSA ) has appeared with increasing frequency and is now epidemic within certain community populations. Whereas hospital MRSA is almost always found in persons with established risk factors associated with prior medical treatment, these are not present in CA-MRSA. Today, in the U.S. a little more than 10% of all MRSA infections are CA-MRSA. This form causes serious skin and soft tissue infections in otherwise healthy persons who have not been recently hospitalized or undergone invasive medical procedures. Hospitalization is required in approximately one out of five cases.

If you are healthy, don’t avoid the beaches. Go and enjoy yourself. Do wash off all the sand when done for the day. Do take basic skin care precautions for any cuts or scrapes.

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