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MRSA Strain With Outbreak Potential Among Reports at Disease Conference
Date:10/24/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- An increasingly stubborn strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a common bacterial infection acquired in hospitals, has been identified in Ohio, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

The strain, ST239 MRSA, killed 22 percent of the people it infected within 30 days, the study found. It's the first time that the strain, originally identified in Brazil, has been seen in the United States since the 1990s.

"It does have epidemic potential for outbreak," the study's co-author, Dr. Shu-Hua Wang, said. "It has increased capacity to cause invasive, serious infection."

Wang's group reported that 6.8 percent -- or 77 -- of 1,126 MRSA samples collected through the Ohio State University Health Network and seven rural hospitals in a three-year period from January 2007 to January 2010 were ST239.

Wang, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Ohio State, called for more genotyping of MRSA isolates.

A second study presented at the conference found that antibiotic prescriptions in the United States were much higher in the South than in the West, a finding that held for all types of antibiotics.

The average nationwide was 0.85 prescriptions per person in 2009, the study found. West Virginia had the highest rate (1.29 per person), followed by Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. The lowest prescription rates were seen in Alaska (0.52 prescriptions per person), followed by Oregon, Colorado, California and Washington state.

"The prescribing rate in the South was more than double the prescribing rate in the West," said Dr. Lauri Hicks, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adding that the research team would be "exploring the reasons behind those differences."

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