Main | Friday, January 18, 2008

Quelling The MRSA Panic

The CDC has issued a statement in an attempt to quell the "dirty gays spreading MRSA superbug" panic being fanned by right-wing Christianist websites and news organizations.
The strains of MRSA described in the recent Annals of Internal Medicine have mostly been identified in certain groups of men who have sex with men (MSM), but have also been found in some persons who are not MSM. It is important to note that the groups of MSM in which these isolates have been described are not representative of all MSM, so conclusions can not be drawn about the prevalence of these strains among all MSM. The groups studied in this report may share other characteristics or behaviors that facilitate spread of MRSA, such as frequent skin-to-skin contact.

CDC’s extensive and continuing study of invasive MRSA in 9 US states indicates that these strains are rare. CDC continues to monitor resistance patterns and strain characteristics in MRSA isolates submitted to CDC for a variety of investigations. Bacteria are able to acquire resistance to antibiotics. It is concerning that these bacteria are becoming resistant to more antibiotics than the typical community associated-MRSA strains because this limits the available treatment options. Fortunately, there are still effective choices available to treat infections when antibiotics are required, including those antibiotics given by mouth. It remains important to do what we can to prevent transmission of these strains and of MRSA in general.

MRSA is typically transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, which occurs during a variety of activities, including sex. There is no evidence at this time to suggest that it MRSA is a sexually-transmitted infection in the classical sense.
The story linked above includes advice on how to prevent MRSA. Short answer: soap and water.

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