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Resistant staph spreads in communities

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12:32pm, September 30, 2003

From Chicago, at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy

Antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus–once a problem limited mainly to hospitals and nursing homes–has become a menace in numerous communities, reports from Australia, Europe, and North America indicate. The drug-resistant bacteria have recently caused outbreaks in children, prison inmates, military personnel, Native Americans, sports teams, gay men, and other groups.

Strains involved in the spate of outbreaks aren't escapees from medical facilities; they've evolved resistance independently, says Keiichi Hiramatsu of Juntendo University in Tokyo. Potentially worrisome, he notes, is that the genetic elements that underlie the new strains' drug resistance are smaller and perhaps more likely to spread between bacteria than are the bits of DNA that make longstanding hospital strains drug resistant.

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