Sunday, November 11, 2012

Researchers find MRSA superbug in reused wastewater

Alan McStravick in RedOrbit:  Most people are already exposed to the common bacterium Staphylococcus aureus as it is typically found on human skin and respiratory tracts. ... A mutated form of this germ, a so-called ‘superbug’ known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), is immune to first-line antibiotics and can cause a dangerous form of staph infection. People most at risk include athletes who share towels and razors, children in daycare settings, members of the military who live in close quarters and individuals who have recently received tattoos. Additionally, people who have had surgery within the past year are subject to a particularly high risk of contracting an infection due to MSRA.

...A research team led by scientists at the University of Maryland School of Public Health has recently discovered that this superbug has been found in significant amounts in several U.S. wastewater treatment plants. MSRA is known to cause difficult-to-treat and potentially fatal bacterial infections. Typically, these infections are found in hospital patients. However, since the 1990’s, it has also been infecting members of the general community that were otherwise considered healthy.

“MRSA infections acquired outside of hospital settings – known as community-acquired MRSA or CA-MRSA – are on the rise and can be just as severe as hospital-acquired MRSA. However, we still do not fully understand the potential environmental sources of MRSA or how people in the community come in contact with this microorganism,” says Amy R. Sapkota, assistant professor in the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and leader of the study....

This 2005 scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicted numerous clumps of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, commonly referred to by the acronym, MRSA; Magnified 9560x. Recently recognized outbreaks, or clusters of MRSA in community settings have been associated with strains that have some unique microbiologic and genetic properties, compared with the traditional hospital-based MRSA strains, which suggests some biologic properties, e.g., virulence factors like toxins, may allow the community strains to spread more easily, or cause more skin disease. A common strain named USA300-0114 has caused many such outbreaks in the United States. Shot from the Centers for Disease Control

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