Community-Acquired MRSA in Hospital Outpatients A Growing Problem

The community-acquired strain of the deadly <"">Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) pathogen is presenting larger health issues than first believed, reports Science Daily. MRSA is a bacteria that can cause serious infection and is resistant to most antibiotics, noted Science Daily, citing a recent study in next month’s issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

MRSA now has two main strains. The traditional, hospital-acquired MRSA (HA-MRSA), which, said eFluxMedia in an earlier report, is more dangerous due to its overwhelming antibiotic resistance and community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA). CA-MRSA originates from strain ST8:USA300 and, while more potent, is a bit easier to treat, often not needing antibiotic therapy. Science Daily explained earlier, that MRSA are Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that are resistant to the meticillin class of antibiotics.

CA-MRSA can be acquired in gyms, spas, schools—public places, in general—adding to the risk and growing problem of HA-MRSA, noted Science Daily. The study looked at information from over 300 microbiology labs serving hospitals nationwide, and found a seven-fold increase in the proportion of CA-MRSA in outpatient hospitals from 1999 to 2006, said Science Daily. The team said the increase poses a threat to patient safety since physicians tend to work between hospital inpatient and outpatient areas.

“This emerging epidemic of community-associated MRSA strains appears to add to the already high MRSA burden in hospitals,” said Ramanan Laxminarayan, Principal Investigator for Extending the Cure, a project examining policy solutions to the issue of antibiotic resistance based at Resources for the Future, quoted Science Daily. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio supports extending the Cure, Science Daily explained.

MRSA is carried on the skin or in the nose and can affect others, with MRSA carriers exhibiting no symptoms. MRSA can be dangerous if it reaches the bloodstream or organs, but with early and proper diagnosis—when there is a small eruption on the skin and before MRSA reaches the bloodstream—the infection is easily treated with general-purpose antibiotics, the sore is bandaged and kept clean, and the infection is cured.

Without treatment or with incorrect diagnosis and treatment, the infection spreads rapidly and can lead to respiratory failure and surgeries, attacking vital organs like the lungs and heart. Survivors are not always returned to their pre-MRSA condition, losing limbs, hearing, and full use of damaged organs. For instance, well-known but not widely publicized, patients surviving MRSA often require amputations to cure infections.

The study found that the percentage of MRSA increased by over 90 percent in outpatients with staph infection, over half of Staphylococcus aureus infections, due almost fully to an increase in CA-MRSA. CA-MRSA increased from 3.6 percent to 28.2 percent of all MRSA infections, said Science Daily.

About 100,000 cases of invasive MRSA occur annually in the United States according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and, shockingly, most infections occur in hospitals and other health-care settings. According to research conducted at McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Canada, over 20 percent of its MRSA patients were dead within one year. In the U.S. MRSA kills some 20,000 people annually, said Science Daily. According to 2005 CDC figures, nearly 19,000 people died in the U.S. from MRSA infections; 94,000 were seriously sickened.

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