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Fire fighters and paramedics more likely to carry MRSA

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The problem of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospital settings has been well documented, but researchers at University of Washington took a first look at the prevalence of MRSA in fire stations and fire fighters.

First responders are more likely to carry superbugs than the average person. The problem of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospital settings has been well documented, but researchers at University of Washington took a first look at the prevalence of MRSA in fire stations and fire fighters.

"Firefighters and paramedics are at the crossroads between the public and hospital environments," said microbiologist Marilyn Roberts in a statement.

According to the study, the scientists found that about 20 percent of fire fighters (who agreed to be tested) are carriers of the superbug.

The study determined the hot spots for the superbug transmission around the stations. About four percent of more than 1,000 samples collected from the fire stations had MRSA in it. The samples were collected from fire trucks as well as the fire fighters' protective gear.

This is evidence that the superbug is being transferred between the environment and people, but it's hardly surprising that hospital-and community-acquired MRSA is showing up in first responders and in fire stations, considering the high number of emergency calls the department responds to each year.

Because of the small nature of the study, Roberts wants to see if this is the case for other fire stations around the nation.

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Boonsri Dickinson

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Boonsri Dickinson is a freelance journalist based in San Francisco. She has written for Discover, The Huffington Post, Forbes, Nature Biotech, Technewsdaily.com, Techstartups.com and AOL. She's currently a reporter for Business Insider. She holds degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure