Deadly new form of MRSA emerges
The new strain can lead to blood poisoning
A deadly strain of the superbug MRSA which can lead to a flesh-eating form of pneumonia has emerged.
Research suggests it may be more prevalent among the gay community - the gay San Francisco district of Castro appears to have been hardest hit.
So far only two cases of the new form of the USA300 strain of the bug have been recorded in the UK.
It is not usually contracted in hospitals, but in the community - often by casual contact.
We do know that the USA300 strain is extremely good at spreading between people through skin-to-skin contact
Professor Mark Enright
The new strain is resistant to treatment by many front-line antibiotics.
It causes large boils on the skin, and in severe cases can lead to fatal blood poisoning or necrotising pneumonia, which eats away at the lungs.
Researchers say the bug has so far been 13 times more prevalent in gay men in San Francisco than in other people.
In the Castro district - where more gay people live than anywhere else in the US - about one in 588 people are carrying the bug.
In the general San Francisco community the figure was around one in 3,800.
Researcher Dr Binh Diep, from San Francisco General Hospital Medical Centre, said: "These multi-drug resistant infections often affect gay men at body sites in which skin-to-skin contact occurs during sexual activities.
The first MRSA strain, resistant to the penicillin substitute methicillin, was discovered in 1961
The USA300 strain was first isolated from a patient in 2001 - it is now the dominant form of Staphylococcus infection in the US
The latest variant of USA300 - FPR3757- is resistant to six major kinds of antibiotics
Even the new variant is treatable with some antibiotics, most importantly vancomycin
However, doctors fear it is close to acquiring resistance to that drug as well
"But because the bacteria can be spread by more casual contact, we are also very concerned about a potential spread of this strain into the general population."
Dr Diep said the best way to avoid transmission was probably to wash thoroughly with soap and water, especially after sexual activities.
The study, reported in Annals of Internal Medicine, was based on a review of medical records from outpatient clinics and medical centres in San Francisco and Boston.
Professor Mark Enright, from Imperial College and St Mary's Hospital, London, Britain's leading authority on MRSA, said: "It's quite surprising that the figures are so high.
"We do know that the USA300 strain is extremely good at spreading between people through skin-to-skin contact.
"The main reservoir for this infection is gay men, drug users, and those involved in contact sports, like wrestling. Having lots of sexual partners and making skin contact with a large number of different people helps the infection to spread.
"In the US it is already moving into the wider community."
Roger Pebody, of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: "This is not the new HIV.
"What we are seeing is the emergence of an infection that can be passed on through close skin to skin contact, including sex.
"It is worrying that one in ten of the American cases are resistant to antibiotics, but most cases are treatable."
down here in texas next to the mexican border, we call it staph from mexican peasant households. they are immune to even drinking contaminated water, we are not.
second generation babies born to immigrants, who are born of marriages into american families with no immunity are getting sick and flooding the emergency rooms
it can be transfered by hand-to-hand contact. easily transferable among small children in battered womens shelters who play together.
what happens is they are given weak strains of antibiotics, such as ampicillin, before being diagnosed and eventually given rocephin injections at the hospital
infected sores develope when not properly treated until the infection looms out of control. the initial infection from an open cut or even mosquito bite is called
conjuntivitis of the eye can be treated with sulfadiazene, impetigo can be readily treated with bacitracin ointment and clean bandages
hand washing, regular bathing, cleaning the bathrooms where it originates, clean bedding and clothes using tiny amounts of bleach to the load, tumbling clothes and bedding in hot clothes dryer
most parents who are clueless eventually ask which households containing indigent children their children frequent. social contact at public schools is unavoidable
mothers of small villages fresh from mexico are well-meaning in their attempt to control the problem but have not been educated about mixing bleach with dishwashing detergent, pine-o-pine, pine sol and other cleaners. many can not read the warning on the labels. mixing bleach to sanitize the house, which produces a deadly odorless gas and kills people in the house overnight in winter faster than carbon monoxide emissions would from their gas heaters.
when the danger is brought to their attention, they are intimidated, feeling threatened as if someone is suggesting they are not good mothers, when in fact they are VERY good mothers, it is a cultural thing brought with them from mexico