Thursday, February 2, 2012

USA300: Flesh-eating bug spread by coughs and sneezes spreading across the UK

A flesh-eating form of pneumonia that is easily passed between healthy people on public transport is spreading across the UK, experts have warned.

The deadly strain of MRSA called USA300 passes easily through skin-to-skin contact. It can also survive on surfaces and so has the potential to be picked up on crowded buses and tubes.

It was first seen in the U.S but cases are now being reported in the community and not just hospitals in Britain.

Dr Ruth Massey, from the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath, said extra vigilance was required around this and similar MRSA bugs known as PVL-positive community acquired strains.

USA 300 is resistant to treatment by several front-line antibiotics and can cause large boils on the skin. In severe cases, USA300 can lead to fatal blood poisoning or a form of pneumonia that can eat away at lung tissue.

Dr Massey said there were 1,000 cases of PVL-positive community acquired MRSA in England in the last year, of which 200 were USA300 strains.

'These community-acquired strains seem to be good at affecting healthy people - they seem to be much better than the hospital ones at causing disease.

'They don't rely on healthcare workers moving them around, which the hospital ones seem to.' Read More