According to the Associated Press, the CDC reports that Drug-resistant staph bacteria picked up in ordinary community settings are increasingly acquiring "superbug" powers and causing far more serious illnesses than they have in the past. The germ is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. People can carry it on their skin or in their noses with no symptoms and still infect others — the reason many hospitals isolate and test new patients to see if they harbor the bug.
The AP article outlined the increasing concern by clinicians about this bacteria. "Until recently we rarely thought of it as a problem among healthy people in the community," said Dr. Rachel Gorwitz of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now, the germs causing outbreaks in schools, on sports teams and in other social situations are posing a growing threat.
MRSA mostly causes skin infections, but it can be life-threatening if it gets into the bloodstream, lungs or organs. Pneumonia, sinus infections and even "flesh-eating" wounds due to MRSA are on the rise, doctors reported at an infectious diseases conference in Washington.
A CDC study, found in the October 17 2008 JAMA article, found that at least 10 percent of cases involving the most common community strain were able to evade the antibiotics typically used to treat them. About 95,000 serious infections and 20,000 deaths due to drug-resistant staph bacteria occur in the United States each year.