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MRSA strain causing higher rates of death

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Henry Ford researchers have found that a strain of MRSA is causing high death rates. So far, MRSA has responded to treatment with the powerful antibiotic Vancomycin, but the new strain is showing resistance to the drug. The MRSA strain, USA600, is five times more lethal than other strains of methicillin resistant staph aureus.

MRSA in the bloodstream can lead to death. The thirty day mortality rate for the USA600 MRSA strain is fifty percent, compared to eleven percent from other strains of the bacteria.

The scientists believe the MRSA strain has unique characteristics that make it more lethal. According to Carol Moore, PharmD., a research investigator in Henry Ford's Division of Infectious Diseases and lead author of the study, "While many MRSA strains are associated with poor outcomes, the USA600 strain has shown to be more lethal and cause high mortality rates.”

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The scientists are not certain what factors are contributing to the high rates of death from the USA600 MRSA strain. Patients infected with the MRSA strain are older and may have more risk factors that lead to the higher rates of death. Patients infected with the MRSA USA600 strain were age 64 on average, while the average age of patients with other MRSA strains was 52.

The authors write, "In light of the potential for the spread of this virulent and resistant strain and its associated mortality, it is essential that more effort be directed to better understanding this strain to develop measures for managing it."

MRSA can occur outside of hospital settings in otherwise healthy individuals, making it important to focus efforts on understanding the USA600 MRSA strain. Public beaches have recently been found to be a source of MRSA infection.

The USA600 MRSA strain is associated with high death rates, and also found to be more resistant to Vancomycin. High rates of death associated with the MRSA strain are not yet completely understood, and may be the result of other risk factors among patients who develop bloodstream infections from the USA600 strain of methicillin resistant staph aureus.

Adapted from EurekAlert