U.S. superbug expected to emerge in Canada

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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Two Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, magnified 50,000 times.

An infectious superbug spreading in the United States is to "emerge in force" in Canada, doctors fear. The bacteria have been reported popping up in day care centers and locker rooms across the U.S. Usually elderly or very ill hospital patients get the disease.

More than 2 million U.S. residents are infected every year, the Centers for Disease Control estimates.

An article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on Tuesday said that Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are "spreading with alarming rapidity." The bacteria can cause boils, pimples, or in extreme cases, flesh-eating disease, and more.

"The resistant bacteria is an old foe with new fangs: a pathogen combining virulence, resistance and an ability to disseminate at large," wrote Dr. John Conly, medical professor and an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary.

British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario are the provinces which already have had MRSA in hospitals.

A 30-year-old Calgary, Alberta man died last year of lung abscesses associated with the infection, as well as a three-month old toddler in Toronto, Ontario.

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Alex Rios, last summer, suffered from an infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus in his leg. Pitcher Ty Taubenheim had a similar infection on his foot.

Doctors are currently investigating some Calgary residents, who could be one of the first Canadian reports of MRSA outside of a hospital setting.

Prevention

In their article in the CMAJ, experts say that doing the following steps will help to prevent the disease:

  • Basic hand washing techniques using soap or alcohol gels
  • The use of disposable aprons and gloves by hospital staff, reducing skin-to-skin contact
  • Covering sneezes and coughs to prevent respiratory spread.

Sources

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