A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine finds that skin infections resistant to drugs are more common than ever before. Lead author Gregory Moran with Olive View-UCLA Medical Center says - or MRSA - has become the leading cause of such infections seen in hospital emergency rooms. "It now accounts for 59% overall of skin infections," he says, pointing out that the statistic represents a fairly remarkable change. "Five or six years ago, it would have been almost [unheard of] to find MRSA among these types of patients."
Previously, MRSA was only reported in hospitals and nursing homes, but, as the study confirms, has emerged outside those settings. Moran says this so-called community-associated MRSA strain is not related to the hospital infections. "They are different strains genetically. The community strains fortunately are more susceptible to antibiotics. So we do have a few more options in terms of treating the community MRSA strains compared to the hospital ones." However, the community strain appears to be more aggressive and more likely to cause infection.
Moran says MRSA spreads rapidly from person to person and recommends good hygiene as a preventive measure. "Frequent hand washing, cleaning all shared equipment, trying to avoid sharing towels, razors, sports equipment those things whenever possible. Anybody who does have a skin infection should keep it covered so that they are not exposing other people."
Moran says further studies are necessary to determine which antibiotics are most effective against community-associated MRSA and to track over time whether resistance to antibiotics changes within the strain.