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NIH awards National Jewish Health $31 million to lead study of infections associated with eczema
Date:7/22/2010

The National Institute of Allergy and Infections Disease has awarded a five-year $31 million contract to National Jewish Health, which is leading a consortium of academic medical centers seeking to better understand skin infections associated with atopic dermatitis. The researchers will focus on antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections and widespread viral infections of the skin, both of which are more prevalent among atopic dermatitis patients.

"MRSA is a significant public health threat that needs to be contained," said principal investigator Donald Leung, MD, PhD, Professor of Allergy and Clinical Immunology at National Jewish Health. "We want to find out why these patients are susceptible to staph infections, particularly MRSA, and learn how we can prevent them from developing and spreading to others."

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is the most common skin disease in the general population, affecting approximately 20 percent of children and two percent of adults in the United States. It is a chronic disease characterized by repeated bouts of dry, itchy, irritated skin, which can make life miserable. Patients from around the country come to National Jewish Health for treatment of their severe atopic dermatitis.

Atopic dermatitis patients are particularly prone to skin infections. Sixty to 90 percent of patients have some staph organisms on their skin, and 30 percent are prone to overt infections, which can cause cracked and oozing lesions on their skin.

Because of their frequent staph infections, and possibly because of repeated antibiotic use to fight the infections, atopic dermatitis patients frequently develop MRSA infections. Although MRSA patients are isolated at National Jewish Health and other hospitals, these patients commonly have contact with friends and family outside the healthcare setting, and could be a source of infections to a wider population.

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Contact: William Allstetter
allstetterw@njhealth.org
303-398-1002
National Jewish Health
Source:Eurekalert

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