A study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that in the past five years, the majority of staph infections that go through schools, day-cares, and prisons in the United States all come from the same bacterial strain.
Scientists have dubbed the bacterium USA300, and are worried that derivatives of the strain will emerge in the next several years, causing many more drug-resistant infections. Scientifically known as CA-MRSA, staph typically causes treatable soft-tissue infections such as boils, but also can lead to life-threatening conditions that are difficult to treat.
The researchers tested a group of ten patients, studying their DNA and the genetic makeup of the USA300 bacteria. They found that the genomes of the different ‘bugs’ the patients had were almost identical, each coming from a common strain.
“The USA300 group of strains appears to have extraordinary transmissibility and fitness,” said Frank DeLeo, a researcher with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Hamilton, Montana. “We anticipate that new USA300 derivatives will emerge within the next several years and that these strains will have a wide range of disease-causing potential.”
While this is no reason to instill panic in the minds of American parents, it’s pretty interesting to think that many of the life-threatening bacterial infections out there, could all come from the same strain of bacteria. Perhaps a vaccine to eliminate the strain is in the works!