Staphylococcus aureus bacterium is one of the leading causes of skin infections in the
United States. The bacteria are common on the skin and in the nose and typically infect through cuts and rashes. Those bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotic drugs such as methicillin can lead to major health problems.
A study in the Annals of Internal Medicine reports that while methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, was once almost exclusively found in hospitals, it is increasingly showing up outside the hospital setting.
The study's lead author -- Dr. Henry Blumberg of Emory University School of Medicine -- documented all outpatient
staph infections for Grady Memorial hospital and affiliated clinics over a three-month period. "What we found was that 72 percent of the patients had MRSA or antibiotic resistant staph infections," he says. "Similar reports are starting to emerge from other communities."
Dr. Blumberg says it's important that physicians target staph infections with the appropriate antibiotic, although fewer options are available for resistant strains. He advises patients to wash hands, not to share towels, and to clean cuts and rashes to prevent staph infections.