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Drug-Resistant Staph Is Here!

MRSA Bacteria Now Most Common Skin Infection Seen in Urban ERs
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 16, 2006 - Drug-resistant staph is now the most common skin infection seen in city emergency rooms, a nationwide study finds.

And the drug resistant germ is no longer linked to just special risk groups, such as prisoners and athletes.

Known as community acquired MRSAMRSA -- methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus -- it's now truly out there in U.S. communities.

UCLA researchers Gregory J. Moran, MD, David Talan, MD, and colleagues, looked at 422 people who showed up in 11 city emergency rooms with skin or soft tissue infections in August 2004.

Despite the current prevalence of MRSA, more than half the patients -- 57% -- were initially treated with antibiotics that don't kill the bacteria.

"Doctors need to change what they've done for decades," Talan said in a news release. "Traditional antibiotics don't work against MRSA."

Fortunately, there are several antibiotics still effective against drug-resistant staph. And even without antibiotics, many people get better after having their boils or abscesses cut open and drained.

The study appears in the Aug. 17 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Spider Bite? Not

People with MRSA skin infections often think a spider has bitten them. That's because the infection often starts out as a painful red swelling, soon becoming a pus-leaking boil or abscess.

That pus is full of MRSA bugs. It's a very contagious infection.

It's easy to spread MRSA from one part of the body to another -- or from one person to another.

So it comes as no surprise the things MRSA-infected patients most often have in common is close contact with someone else with an MRSA infection, or having had one before.

Other common risks: reporting a "spider bite" and haven taken an antibiotic in the last month.

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