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VUMC researchers find drug-resistant bacteria MRSA a growing threat

Infectious diseases researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are noticing a significant increase in the number of infections due to Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and the number of asymptomatic individuals who harbor the organism in their bodies.

In fact, in a recent analysis of children seen in 2003 at the emergency department of the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, approximately 60 percent of the skin infections due to the staphylococcus germ were due to MRSA, an organism that can produce a variety of physical manifestations across a spectrum, from the very minor, all the way to causing death. Now a new study done by VUMC researchers confirms a dramatic spread of the organism that is being harbored in the noses of healthy children.

"What this tells us is that we're more likely to find MRSA in this population than we are the typical staphylococcus organism that is susceptible to methicillin," said Buddy Creech, M.D., a fellow in pediatric infectious diseases and the lead investigator on the study. "The problem with this organism is that it seems to behave differently, with a tendency to cause skin abscesses and pneumonia."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), MRSA is a type of bacteria that is resistant to a class of antibiotics that include methicillin and other more commonly prescribed variants such as oxacillin, amoxicillin and other penicillin-based drugs. Previously MRSA was seen only in the hospital in patients with underlying diseases or compromised immune systems. Now the organism appears to be common among people everywhere, including those in communal settings such as the military, prisons, daycare facilities, and on athletic teams. The CDC estimates that roughly 130,000 people are hospitalized with MRSA each year.

MRSA can enter the body through even the smallest opening in the skin and infiltrate the bloodstream. Once MRSA enters the blo
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Contact: John Howser
john.howser@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-4747
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
18-Mar-2005


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