Superbugs a growing problem

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 23, 2006

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About 2 million Americans carry a strain of drug-resistant bacteria in their noses, says a study in the Jan. 15 Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The Staphylococcus aureus bacteria found lodged in nasal passages included methicillin-resistant S. aureus, which can cause serious infections that are difficult to treat. MRSA was once primarily a problem in hospitals, but it is now a growing problem in communities around the country and some blame the inappropriate use of antibiotics.

Samples were collected from nearly 10,000 participants in the 2001-02 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. The participants are considered a representative sample of the nation's population.

Nearly one-third of the participants were found to be colonized with staph, with the highest prevalence among males and children between 6 and 11 years old. Traditional MRSA was most frequently found among women and in people older than 60. The MRSA strains most common in communities were more likely to be found in young black individuals.

"Interestingly, carriage of certain strains do seem to vary by sociodemographics, especially age and race," said Matthew J. Kuehnert, MD, a CDC epidemiologist. "We need to learn more in order to allow design of new, more effective interventions."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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