Experts say deaths from drug-resistant staph infections may surpass AIDS deaths

CHICAGO (AP) -- A new government study out today says more than 90,000 Americans could get the potentially deadly "superbug" each year. It enters the bloodstream or turns into the so-called flesh-eating disease.

The overall incidence rate is about 32 invasive infections per 100,000 people. An editorial in tomorrow's Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the study, calls that number "astounding."

Researchers found more than half the cases were in the health care system. Open wounds and exposure to medical equipment are major ways the bug spreads.

In recent years, the drug-resistant germ has become more common in hospitals and has also been spreading through gyms, locker rooms, prisons and poor urban neighborhoods.

One of the study's co-authors says the findings underscore the need for better prevention measures, including curbing the overuse of antibiotics and improving hand-washing and other hygiene procedures.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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