MRSA: More Threatening Than Sars and Bird Flu

Take a second look at that spider bite, pimple or boil. You could have MRSA. “MRSA is a greater health threat to public health than SARS or Bird Flu” according to Alice Dembner, Boston Globe Staff reporter. She reports MRSA as showing up “outside of hospitals, in clusters of athletes, prisoners, military trainees, and intravenous drug users” in the early 1990’s when previously it was only present in hospitals.” In1996, for example, an Alaskan community reported an outbreak of boils caused by S. aureus in the healthy population. The cause for these infections was public steam baths, where patients would bathe without sitting on a towel or use their own soap.

What is MRSA?
According to the Center for Disease Control, “Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a type of bacteria that is resistant to certain antibiotics.Ã?´ Methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin will not stop these Staph infections. Like other types of Staph infections, MRSA, occurs most frequently among persons in hospitals and healthcare facilities who have weakened immune systems. Many healthy people who have MRSA show no symptoms.

What is CA-MRSA
MRSA infections that are acquired by persons who have not been hospitalized within the past year nor had a medical procedure are called community associated (or CA-MRSA).

What is the CDC doing about MRSA?
The Center for Disease control is conducting MRSA surveillance, prevention, and research activities.

How is the CDC tracking MRSA?
~The CDC monitors has a National Nosocomial Infection Surveillance (NNIS) System, a system of approximately 300 U.S. hospitals that voluntarily report data on healthcare associated infections.

~Invasive HA-MRSA and community-associated MRSA infections are monitored using the Active Bacterial Core Surveillance (ABC’s) System, which is a laboratory- and population-based surveillance system for invasive bacterial pathogens of public health importance. In January 2003, nine sites across the United States were participating in this system monitoring a population of over 16.3 million persons.

How is the CDC preventing MRSA?
~The CDC collaborates with state health departments and academic medical centers to identify and promote effective strategies to reduce MRSA transmission in healthcare and community settings.

~The CDC has launched a national evidence-based educational Campaign to Prevent Antimicrobial Resistance in Healthcare Settings found at

~The CDC is conducts proficiency testing to assist public health laboratories in determining the antibiotic susceptibility of Staph bacteria.

~The CDC has a national resource library of MRSA at to identify genetic patterns or relationships among different types MRSA that could be used to take public health action.

What research on MRSA the CDC is currently conducting?
~The CDC is researching the role of staph toxins that may provide answers to questions about why some MRSA infections are more invasive, or lead to rapid death.

~The CDC is collaborating on studies to characterize epidemiologic and microbiologic differences in HA(hospital associated)- versus CA (community associated)-MRSA.

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