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Study - MRSA Found At Public Beaches

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, September 14, 2009 12:06 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, MRSA, Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, Bacteria, Community-Acquired Staph


IMAGE SOURCE: © iStockPhoto / Washington Coast / author: Wheninusa

Serious infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria were found on nine beaches along the coast of Washington State, say scientists.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is a multi-resistant strain of Staphyloccus aureus; a common bug that can cause serious infections.

The hard-to-treat superbug, once known for being acquired mostly in hospitals or health care settings, is increasingly being found outside of hospitals such as among athletes, children, prisoners and in a gym where sweat and close contact make its transmission more likely.

MRSA, like other staph bacteria, commonly resides on skin or inside someone’s nose. About 30 percent of healthy people carry Staph aureus, therefore most are able to survive the infection. But it can be fatal in the 20 percent of people who develop MRSA bloodstream infections and 40 percent of those who develop MRSA pneumonia.

It has emerged as a killer of people with severe influenza, including the new H1N1, or swine, flu, according to USA Today.

“We don’t know the risk” for going to the beach, said Marilyn Roberts, a microbiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. “But the fact that we found these organisms suggests that the level is higher than we thought.”

Samples of water and sand were collected from 11 public beaches near the Puget Sound in Seattle and tested for MRSA, as well as a closely related drug-resistant organism, according to a study findings recently reported at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC) in San Francisco.

Staph bacteria were found at nine of eleven beaches, including five with MRSA. The strains were similar to highly resistant strains seen in hospitals rather than milder strains acquired in community settings, Roberts said.

Scientists are not advising people to avoid the beach or to be afraid. However, showering when coming out of the water will help to lower the risk of bacteria staying on the skin.

“Make sure to wash all the sand off,” and cover any open cuts and scrapes before playing in the sand,” she added. Digging in the sand or being buried appears to raise the risk of infection.

In another recent study in the British medical journal, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Dr. Richard Oehler and colleagues found that dogs and cats can colonize MRSA germs they get from their owners.

The National MRSA Education Initiative was launched by the CDC in September 2008 and has more information on MRSA and bacteria prevention. #

1 Comment

Anonymous User
Posted by Wanda
Tuesday, September 15, 2009 5:06 PM EST


The picture you show on your article is of a beach along the Strait of Juan De Fuca. That is not at all in any way at all Puget Sound. It does NOT have MRSA. You should remove the picture.

Comments for this article are closed.

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