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Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is the most common cause of skin and soft-tissue infections among patients seeking care in the emergency department (ED), researchers report. Cultures of skin and soft-tissue infections were studied from 422 patients at EDs in 11 U.S. cities. Fifty-nine percent (249 patients) revealed MRSA. The prevalence of MRSA infections ranged from 15% to 74%, depending on the city.


One genetic type of MRSA (USA300) accounted for 97% of the infections, and 98% of the samples had two toxins that make MRSA more aggressive.


Testing identified effective treatments for these infections, including clindamycin, rifampin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and tetracycline. But in 57% of cases, care providers had prescribed an ineffective antibiotic.


Based on their findings, researchers suggest clinicians consider getting cultures of skin and soft-tissue infections and modify treatment to address MRSA, if indicated. People can prevent infections by not sharing towels, razors, or other items related to hygiene, and by washing their hands.


Source: Methicillin-resistant S. aureus infections among patients in the emergency department, The New England Journal of Medicine, GJ Moran, et al., August 17, 2006.