Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MRSA: An Update

An antibody which causes MRSA bacteria to explode rather than divide brings hope for a universal vaccine.
09:00 17 January 2011 by Catherine de Lange

MRSA is a highly antibiotic-resistant form of the bacteria Staphylococcus Aureus which kills about 20,000 people in the US alone each year. Although a small number of antibiotics work against MRSA, the bacteria is constantly evolving resistant strains.
Edward Schwartz and colleagues at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York have identified an antibody which targets a protein called glucosaminidase (GMD) deep within MRSA that has a key role in breaking down the cell wall, enabling the bacterium to divide.
What's more, the protein is genetically identical in all strains, so a vaccine that targets GMD could potentially be universal.
The team grew MRSA in culture alongside the new antibody. Bacteria exposed to the antibody either fused into long chains or exploded, significantly inhibiting bacterial growth.
The research was presented on Saturday at the Orthopaedic Research Society meeting in Long Beach, California

Protect against catching a MRSA infection in places you stop everyday

After several weeks of fighting strep throat and a virus, 25-year-old Chicago actor Ian McClaren, started to notice a red bump on his behind.

Media-Newswire.com) - After several weeks of fighting strep throat and a virus, 25-year-old Chicago actor Ian McClaren, started to notice a red bump on his behind.

“At first I thought it was like a zit or something and so I spent a couple of days letting it fester and tried to pop it. And it would hurt really bad and all of the sudden I couldn’t sit on it. It would hurt to sit on it,” said McClaren, who teaches yoga and lives a healthy lifestyle.

But that bump made it so painful to sit down that McClaren eventually called his father, a physician in Michigan. Dr. James McClaren suggested to his son that the “zit” might actually be MRSA, an antibiotic resistant skin infection that stands for the tongue twister "methicillin-resistant staphlococcus aureus."

A doctor here confirmed the diagnosis and he responded well to a double course of antibiotics that cured the condition. MRSA is a form of staph infection that is hard to treat because it does not respond to first line antibiotics. Left untreated, the disease will become more invasive, eating the flesh and eventually causing blood and bone infection.

Since the 1960’s MRSA has been an increasing public health risk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that MRSA caused 59 percent of all reported skin and soft tissue infections in 2004, the most current year for national data.

For public health officials, McClaren’s case represents increasing risks of catching MRSA in the community rather than the hospital.

Previously MRSA was primarily associated with hospital stays or was health care related, but community-associated MRSA is on the rise. In 2009 the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that of patients admitted to hospitals with MRSA, 14,051 of those were infected upon admission with no recent exposure through health care setting.

“Back in the late 90s, a guy named Bob Daum started raising the alarm about rise of MRSA in the community,” said Dr. Craig Conover for the Illinois Department of Public Health. Dr. Robert Daum is a pediatric infectious disease specialist at University of Chicago.

“I don’t think there was really a high level of awareness until five to 10 years later, especially when the paper came out reviewing MRSA data from around the country showing that there was a very large burden of infection related to MRSA and a very large amount in the community,” Conover said.

McClaren’s next move was to head to a walk-in clinic in the Loop.

“The doctor didn’t really say anything. He was like ‘yep this is probably MRSA’ and it was just like pop pop and he taped it up,” McClaren said. He was also prescribed two antibiotics including trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, a generic form of the drug Bactrim.

McClaren’s case of MRSA cleared up quickly after treatment and he has had no recurrent infection.

The Illinois Department of Public Health’s caregiver guidelines for MRSA suggest counseling patients and their close contacts about preventing the spread of the disease.

“We promulgate materials for MRSA to clinics. I think there is only so much we can mandate,” Conover said. “Part of good clinical care is to educate patients whether they have MRSA or any other diagnoses. We try to educate, but you can never educate enough.”

Conover recommends practicing good hygiene to prevent the spread of MRSA in the community. This includes regular hand washing and refraining from sharing items likes razors, towels and deodorants. If you have a MRSA infection, you should launder items like sheets and towels daily until the infection stops draining.

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