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Guidelines Issued for Drug-Resistant Staph Infections

THURSDAY, Jan. 6 (HealthDay News) -- An infectious disease association has released the first national guidelines for the treatment of potentially deadly methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)infections.

Initially found in health- care facilities, MRSA infections have become an increasing issue for healthy people outside hospitals. They now represent 60 percent of all skin infections treated in emergency rooms. In most cases, MRSA -- strains of staph bacteria resistant to all first-line antibiotics -- causes painful, red swollen bumps that are frequently mistaken for spider bites and that can usually be treated successfully if caught early.

Invasive MRSA -- an infection that spreads from the skin into other parts of the body -- is less common, but far more serious. About 94,360 cases of invasive MRSA were reported in the United States in 2005, and more than 18,000 of those patients died -- a figure that surpassed those dying that year of AIDS.

Currently, there are wide variations in treatment approaches -- something the new guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) hopes to address.

"MRSA has become a huge public health problem and physicians often struggle with how to treat it," guidelines lead author Dr. Catherine Liu, an assistant clinical professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, said in an IDSA news release. "These guidelines establish a framework to help physicians determine how to evaluate and treat uncomplicated as well as invasive infections."

Topics covered in the guidelines include how to manage skin and soft tissue MRSA infections, treating recurrent skin infections, using antibiotics for treating MRSA, managing invasive infections and treating newborns infected with it.

The guidelines, which will appear in the Feb. 1 issue of the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, have been endorsed by the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about MRSA infections.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Infectious Diseases Society of America, news release, Jan. 5, 2011

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