MRSA, a bacteria that is often associated with public areas such as hospitals, swimming pools and gyms, has been found living in homes as well. The bacteria is resistant to antibiotics and is therefore hard to treat and very dangerous. The bacteria spreads easily and a recent study shows that it can colonize in private homes.
The study was conducted to determine how pathogens colonize and infect communities. The study concentrated on the USA300 strain in northern Manhattan and the Bronx. In 2009, this strain was responsible for an epidemic and at least 75% of the MRSA infections in northern Manhattan.
Researchers collected MRSA samples from over 160 people between 2009 and 2011 and compared them with tissue from healthy people. They found that samples from people in a single household tended to be more similar to each other than to samples from other households. This meant that individuals within a home frequently exchanged the bacteria.
They also found that many people were getting MRSA from outside locations too, and determined that the bacteria likely colonized in the homes before being carried to the other locations.
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“There were some households where we found multiple kinds of USA300, which is quite surprising,” said Anne-Catrin Uhlemann. “It suggests some kind of outside reservoir, such as a link to a hospital or a gym. It seems that the USA300 strain spread in public spaces first, but it is now prevalent in households as well as hospitals. Further studies are needed to evaluate how hospitals might be involved in spreading the bacteria back into the community.”
The researchers believe that because so many people are treated with antibiotics for minor bacterial infections and the MRSA bacteria is living in many homes, that it is exposed to low levels of antibiotics, which is how it becomes resistant to them. More studies may help doctors find new ways to treat the MRSA bacteria and improve survival rates.
Are you surprised to learn that MRSA could be colonizing in your home?
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