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MRSA, the Super Bug Spreading to Urban Poor in US

The incidence of drug-resistant staph infections has risen almost seven-fold in some Chicago neighborhoods , according to a new study.

Researchers said the superbugs, first seen mainly in hospitals and nursing homes, is now spreading to urban poor settlements. The strain has turned up recently among athletes, prisoners and people who get illegal tattoos.

It is a type of infection caused by a Staphylococcus (or "staph") bacteria.

Called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, these staph germs can cause skin infections that in rare cases have led to pneumonia, bloodstream infections and a painful, flesh-destroying condition.

Actually, about 25% of people normally carry staph in the nose, mouth, genitals, and anal area. The foot is very prone to pick up bacteria from the floor. The infection often begins with a little cut, which gets infected with bacteria.

These staph infections range from a simple boil to antibiotic-resistant infections to flesh-eating infections. The difference between all these is how deep and how fast the infection spreads, and how treatable it is with antibiotics.

MRSA is hard to treat because the bacteria have developed resistance to the penicillin drug family.

The antibiotic-resistant infections are more common in North America, because of overuse of antibiotics.

The type of staph infection that involves skin is called cellulitis and affects the skin's deeper layers. It is treatable with antibiotics.

This type of infection is very common in the general population -- and more common and more severe in people with weak immune systems. People who have diabetes or weakened immunity are particularly prone to developing cellulitis.

Staph cellulitis usually begins as a small area of tenderness, swelling, and redness. Sometimes it begins with an open sore. Other times, there is no break in the skin at all -- and it's anyone's gue
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