MRSA bacterial strain mutates quickly as it spreads | Science News

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MRSA bacterial strain mutates quickly as it spreads

Antibiotic-resistant microbe's detailed family tree reveals roots of the global infection

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4:30pm, January 21, 2010

An antibiotic-resistant strain of staph bacteria began its globetrotting adventures in Europe and can mutate quickly as it spreads, a new study suggests. Scientists acting as molecular historians used a new technology to decode the bacteria’s genome and follow its movements, an approach that could one day help health care workers pinpoint the origins of outbreaks and prevent further infections.

The marauding bacterium, known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA, changes its genetic makeup faster than previously thought by altering at least one letter in its genetic handbook about every six weeks, a new study in the Jan. 22 Science shows.

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