PORTLAND, Ore. The often feared and sometimes deadly infections caused by MRSA methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus are now moving out of hospitals and emerging as an even more virulent strain in community settings and on athletic teams, and raising new concerns about antibiotic resistance.
Right now, the new community-associated strain of MRSA is responsive to more, but sometimes different antibiotics than its hospital relative, experts say. But those antibiotics will almost certainly lose their effectiveness as they are used more widely, and efforts are under way to combat that issue.
A new study by pharmacy researchers at Oregon State University has identified two antibiotics that appear less likely to cause future antibiotic resistance, and others that if used would allow resistance to emerge more quickly. This analysis, just published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, offers physicians some direction to help deal with this problem until more research can be done, they said.
"The problem with invasive MRSA infections is very real and is now moving from the hospital setting to the community," said George Allen, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy. "The community-based strain in some ways is even more apt to cause serious problems than those most often acquired in hospitals, and increasing quite dramatically in prevalence.
"The good news is that so far the community strain is more treatable, if we can keep it that way," he said.
Staphylococcus aureus, a common bacterium that's often associated with skin infections, was once treated easily by penicillin. But over many years it acquired resistance to that, as well as the penicillin-derivative methicillin and other antibiotics, leaving limited options to address it. Although infections are usually minor, some can spread rapidly, cause pneumonia, tissue necrosis, blood infections, shock and death.
|Contact: George Allen|
Oregon State University