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MRSA has its day in the sun

Researchers turn up evidence of antibiotic-resistant staph strain at the beach

CHICAGO — A sunburn and sand between the toes may not be all you take home from a day at the beach. An antibiotic-resistant strain of bacteria known as MRSA lurks in ocean water and perhaps in sand, Lisa Plano of the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine reported February 13 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In a talk titled “What happens at the beach doesn’t always stay at the beach,” Plano reported on an epidemiological study of beachgoers. Of 1,303 adult bathers at a popular beach in south Florida, 37 percent came into contact with the usually harmless Staphylococcus aureus microbe in the ocean water. Each of the study participants waded into the ocean, dunked underwater three times and collected a sample of the surrounding seawater in a clean jug.

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