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Thursday, September 22, 2005 

New reports of community-acquired MRSA

Today's New England Journal of Medicine reports 3 cases of community-acquired Staphylococcus aureus in children; two of the three cases were due to methicillin-resistant staph aureus, or MRSA (NEJM 353:1245-1251, 2005). The children were 15 months, 9 months, and 17 months of age; sadly, all cases were fatal.

Interestingly, the NEJM paper showed that all 3 isolates obtained from the patients were clonal by pulse-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE, in which restriction enzymes are used to cut the DNA, which is then run out on an agarose gel for analysis of band pattern) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST, which compares the sequences of several conserved housekeeping genes). The only difference by PFGE was the presence of the mec gene into the MRSA isolates. Therefore, this may be a commonly found population which has recently acquired methicillin resistance, and may be spreading through the population in Chicago.

Unfortunately, community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) is looking like it's something that won't go away anytime soon. MRSA infections are still most commonly acquired nosocomially (that is, in a hospital setting), but several reports have shown they are occurring in the community at an increasing pace. Al-Shawwa et al. reported 6 cases of otitis media (ear infections) due to CA-MRSA. It's also become a player (pardon the pun) among athletes, with reports of infections in groups ranging from a high school wrestling team in Vermont to members of the St. Louis Rams football team. Don't expect to see this diminsh anytime soon; and be sure to wipe off that gym equipment before and after using it!


About me

  • I'm Tara C. Smith
  • From Iowa, United States
  • I'm a mom and a scientist, your basic stressed-out, wanna-have-it-all-and-do-it-all Gen Xer. Recently transplanted from Ohio to Iowa, I've spent most of my life in the midwest (with 4 years of college spent out east in "soda" territory). My main interest, and the subject of my research, is infectious disease: how does the microbe cause illness? What makes one strain nasty, and another "avirulent?" Are the latter really not causing any disease, or could some of those be possible for the development of chronic disease years down the road? Additionally, I've spent a lot of time discussing the value of teaching evolution, and educating others about "intelligent design" and other forms of creationism. My interest in history of science and medicine is also useful as a way to tie all of the above interests together. [Disclaimer: the views here are solely my own, and do not represent my employer, my spouse, that guy who's always sitting by the fountain when I come into work, or anyone else with whom I may be remotely affiliated.]
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