Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus - A Public Health Response to New Threats of Staph Infection

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Courtesy of Pure Earth Environmental Laboratory, Inc.

A new form of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus has become more prevalent in the United States among the young and healthy, and now must be recognized as a new public health threat. Health workers across the country are encountering methicillin-resistant S. aureus more frequently. It is easily transmissible and can lead to deadly infections.

First identified in the early 1960s, MRSA has been a serious problem in hospital settings worldwide for more than 30 years. It is resistant not only to methicillin, but also to other antibiotics typically used to treat common staph infections that, in the past, were found in people who recently had spent time in health care settings. In the 1990s, a new form of MRSA began occurring in otherwise healthy individuals who had not been in contact with hospitals. Health officials first called it community association MRSA, which has evolved into the more commonly known communityacquired MRSA of today.

Nothing Usual

Unlike hospital-acquired MRSA, community-acquired MRSA is appearing in the healthy population, where there are none of the usual risk factors prevalent in hospitalized patients. Community-acquired MRSA, which accounts for a little more than 10 percent of MRSA infections, is genetically different from the hospital-acquired type and is still treatable with some antibiotics, but it often carries a toxin associated with more serious skin infections. Both forms of the bacteria, which spread easily through contact with infected people or contaminated objects, can cause an infection with redness and swelling that may possibly result in boils, blisters or abscesses. The infection can be treated with alternative antibiotics or by draining the skin wound. While most community-acquired MRSA infections are mild, severe invasive conditions, such as pneumonia and necrotizing fasciitis, have resulted.

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