Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) October 23, 2009 -- Golden staph, the very dangerous bacteria, has been discovered in sand and water for the first time, at five public beaches along the coast of Washington.
The microbe MRSA is methicillin-resistant Straphylococcus aureus. It is a hard-to-treat bug which is usually rarely seen outside hospitals. It is feared that it has spread to locations such as schools, locker rooms and gyms.
The germ can create ghastly skin infections, as well as pneumonia and other life-threatening problems. It is mainly contracted through human contact.
âWe don't know the risk for any individual going to a beach,â revealed Marilyn Roberts, a microbiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle âThe fact that we found these organisms suggests that the level is much higher than we had thought.â
From February to September, 2008, researchers tested 10 beaches in Washington, along the West Coast and in Puget Sound. They discovered staph bacteria at nine of the beaches, including five with MRSA.
The public have been encouraged by the scientists not to avoid beaches, or be frightened of them. A microbiologist at North Shore University Health System in Illinois, Dr. Lance Peterson affirms âItâs probably prudent to shower when you come out, to lower the risk of bacteria staying on the skin.â
âMake sure you get all the sand off and cover any open cuts or scrapes before playing in it,â Roberts added. âDigging in the sand, or being buried in it seems to raise the risk of infection.â
Golden staph kills one in five patients. In England screening all patients for MRSA, who book into hospital for an operation, has became mandatory from April this year, in order to bring incidents of the superbug down.
Consultant microbiologist at Barts and the London NHS Trust, Michael Millar, said, âThe tests can be unreliable, meaning some patients will wrongly test positive for the bug when they do not have it and will be given unnecessary treatment to clear it, causing delays to their surgery".
In England there were 509 cases of MRSA, a 40 per cent drop on the same quarter last year and a 27 per cent drop on the previous quarter this year.
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