Dangerous staph bacteria have been found in sand and water for the first time at five public beaches along the coast of Washington, and scientists think the state is not the only one with this problem.
The germ is MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus _ a hard-to-treat bug once rarely seen outside of hospitals but that increasingly is spreading in ordinary community settings such as schools, locker rooms and gyms.
The germ causes nasty skin infections as well as pneumonia and other life-threatening problems. It spreads mostly through human contact. Little is known about environmental sources that also may harbor the germ.
Finding it at the beach suggests one place that people may be picking it up, said Marilyn Roberts, a microbiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle.
“We don’t know the risk” for any individual going to a beach, she said. “But the fact that we found these organisms suggests that the level is much higher than we had thought.”
She presented results Saturday at an American Society for Microbiology conference in California. Last year, her team reported finding a different type of bacteria, enterococci, at five West Coast beaches. And earlier this year, University of Miami researchers reported finding staph bacteria in four out of 10 ocean water samples collected by hundreds of bathers at a South Florida beach.
Many communities also commonly restrict bathing at beaches because of contamination with fecal bacteria.
Kill it with copper:
Copper. The MRSA Miracle Cure?
In hospitals recently, there has been a debate over whether or not copper alloy based surfaces would decrease the risk of MRSA infection. As many people are aware, MRSA is the highly dangerous super bug that is impervious to most antibiotics. However, researchers now believe that copper based surfaces would kill the bacteria in approximately 90 minutes.
MRSA, or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, is a growing concern for the NHS, with over 7,000 cases in Britain alone. Since people who are susceptible to illnesses are at greater risk of MRSA attack, scientists are always on the look out for new ways to fight the virus. Other researchers have been looking for quite some time at how some metals can affect bacteria, however, so far; no-one has looked into MRSA.
Doctor Noyce and Professor Bill Keevil have been comparing how MRSA copes on stainless steel – the most commonly used metal in NHS hospitals – and on selected copper surfaces. Their results showed that at room temperature, MRSA can survive for 72 hours on stainless steel, meaning it can potentially spread to other surfaces from contact, whereas yellow brass rendered it risk – free in four and a half hours. This however, was seconded only by copper, destroying it in 90 minutes flat. – tmatoday
This caught my attention because I have some inside information: I spoke with someone who works in a lab where they are doing tests and finding human waste with bacteria (not looking for MRSA as far as I know) on streets, freeways and sidewalks, too.