Rethinking Healthcare

Flesh-eating bacteria hit the beach

Flesh-eating bacteria hit the beach

Posting in Science

Wash that sand off before you go home, and be especially careful if you have any cut skin. The risk of infection remains low, but it's not non-existent.

MRSA, the flesh-eating staph bacteria known to inhabit hospitals and gym lockers, is now being found at public beaches.

(Here's a site where you can get a poster advertising the cure, right.)

A group headed by Marilyn Roberts of the University of Washington tested water at 11 beaches in the state and found serious staph strains in nine of them. Seven of 13 MRSA samples were found to be multi-drug resistant, and five were similar to those found in hospitals.

Just because this study was done in Puget Sound, don't think you're safe anywhere. The study should be simple to replicate.

Roberts' advice is to wash that sand off before you go home, and be especially careful if you have any cut skin. The risk of infection remains low, but it's not non-existent.

The Association of Medical Microbiologists insists that MRSA "rarely, if ever, presents a risk to the general public," being no more difficult to get than other staph infections, just more difficult to treat.

The drugs used against it are toxic and treatment must thus be done in a hospital. Unfortunately, hospitals were until recently spreading MRSA like mad. Hence, panic and horror stories.

Fortunately staying safe from MRSA requires the same protocol as staying safe from the flu. See above.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure