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Homes Now 'Reservoirs' for Superbug MRSA

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria common on household surfaces, study finds

TUESDAY, April 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is now taking up residence in people's homes, according to a new study published online April 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The results are based on 161 New York City residents who contracted MRSA infections between 2009 and 2011. Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, M.D., Ph.D., of the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues analyzed the genetic makeup of MRSA samples from those patients, and took swabs from a comparison group of people the same age who had not fallen ill to see if they harbored any kind of S. aureus bacteria. The researchers also tested other members of each patient's household and their social contacts, and took samples from household surfaces to hunt for S. aureus contamination.

In the end, they found evidence that people's homes were "major reservoirs" of a MRSA strain called USA300 -- which is the chief cause of community MRSA infections across the United States. Bacteria taken from people living in the same home, for example, were genetically very similar, while there was more genetic variability between samples from different households.

"What our findings show is it's also endemic in households," Uhlemann told HealthDay. The implication, Uhlemann said, is that "we can't just treat the person with the infection. We have to attempt to remove the (MRSA) colonization from the home."

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