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"Super Staph" on the Rise

By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter
By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter

Knoxville (WVLT) - Across the country, and here in East Tennessee, a new bacteria is spreading, constantly mutating to resist what scientists invent to destroy them.

It's known in the medical community as C.A. MRSA.

As Medical Reporter Jessa Goddard found, it's being diagnosed more and more often in area emergency rooms.

"C.A." stands for community acquired, because these Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria are all around us.

Previously contained to hospitals, C.A. MRSA is now common in parks and playgrounds, and area ER's report seeing several cases a week.

The better we get at creating antibiotic drugs to kill bacteria, the more inventive and resistant they must become to survive and multiply.

And now we've created a monster, a superbug called C.A. MRSA.

"With community-acquired MRSA, people with normal immune systems do contract it, and certainly people with no risk factors for it can get it," says UT Emergency Medicine Doctor David Linn.

About five years ago, these bacteria moved from the hospital to the community, and no one is exactly sure why.

Emergency room doctors like David Linn started to see an increasing number of patients come in suspecting they had been bitten by a spider.

"Most of the time, 99% of the time, these people were not bitten by spiders, it was actually a little bit of this MRSA infection that got into their hair follicle or through their cuts and has developed into this boil," says Dr. Linn.

C.A. MRSA throws out a toxin that destroys the white blood cells the body uses to defend itself.

And it can be deadly.

These infections affect the young and healthy just as commonly as the elderly or people with weakened immune systems.

"With community-acquired MRSA, people with normal immune systems do contract it, and certainly people with no risk factors for it can get it," Dr. Linn says.

C.A. MRSA is spread by close contact, touching someone or something that carries the bacteria.

You can't defend yourself 100 percent against C.A. MRSA, but you can significantly reduce your risk, simply by using good hygiene.

If you get a wound, wash it thoroughly and keep it covered.

And don't share personal items like razors or towels.

Remember, most people initially think it's a spider bite, so don't confuse it for that.

C.A. MRSA is treatable, doctors usually have to drain the infection and prescribe one of two antibiotics to kill the bacteria.


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