Ohio sees new strain of MRSA

Health officials in Ohio say they have encountered a particularly stubborn strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which is a common bacterial infection that is usually acquired in hospitals.

Research presented during the recent annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America showed that the strain - now known as ST239 MRSA - killed 22 percent of the people it infected within 30 days, Health Day reports.

Dr. Shu-Hua Wang, the study’s co-author, told Health Day that this is the first time this particular strain of MRSA has been seen in the United States since the early 1990s. It was originally identified in Brazil, according to Wang.

“It does have epidemic potential for outbreak,” Wang told Health Day. “It has increased capacity to cause invasive, serious infection.”

Wang’s researchers reported that 6.8 percent of 1,126 MRSA samples collected through the Ohio State University Health Network and seven rural hospitals in a three year period were the ST239 strain.

A second study presented at the conference found that antibiotic prescriptions in the U.S. were much higher in the South than in the West.

According to the study, Health Day reports, the average nationwide was 0.85 prescriptions per person in 2009. West Virginia had the highest rate, at 1.29 per person, followed by Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.

Dr. Lauri Hicks, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Health Day that health officials are interested in the rates because antibiotic use is strongly related to antibiotic resistance.

“The prescribing rate in the South was more than double the prescribing rate in the West,” Hicks told Health Day.