Multidrug-Resistant MRSA Bacteria Found on Public Beaches
September 13, 2009
(ChattahBox)—The alarming rise in a drug resistant “superbug,” Staph aureus (MRSA) among the general population, is confounding scientists, as the staph infection previously only targeted severely ill patients in hospitals. And on Saturday, a team of researchers announced that they discovered the superbug on public beaches on the Puget Sound, indicating the bacteria is more prevalent in the ecosystem than previously thought.
The samples were taken by researchers at the University of Washington from the ocean and sand at several public beaches on the Puget Sound.
The researchers identified Staph bacteria at nine of 10 public beaches sampled. Seven of 13 MRSA samples were found to be multidrug resistant.
Lead researcher Marilyn Roberts believes the tests show that public beaches may be a source of transmission of the dangerous bacteria to the general public. “Our results suggest that public beaches may be a reservoir for possible transmission of MRSA,” said Roberts.
Many people already carry the MRSA bacteria in their bodies, affording them the necessary resistance to fight off an infection. But for others, Staph aureus can be deadly, especially if the superbug enters the bloodstream or progresses to MRSA pneumonia.
Additionally, people already weakened by severe influenza, including the swine flu, may be particularly susceptible to developing the fatal form of MRSA.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have always existed, but with a reduction in the discovery of new and more powerful antibiotics, the bacteria are becoming stronger and resistant to frequently administered antibiotics.
The researchers limited their testing to Puget Sound beaches, but Roberts believes the discovery of multiple samples of the drug-resistant Staph aureus indicates the bacteria is present in the sands and marine water of other public beaches.
“The fact that we found these organisms suggests that the amount is much higher than we previously thought,” said Roberts.