8 Pa. hospitals test nasal swabs in effort to thwart staph infection

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Eight southwestern Pennsylvania hospitals are routinely testing nasal swabs taken from patients in an effort to reduce the incidence of a stubborn staph infection that is resistant to some antibiotics.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is monitoring the effort to track methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, to see if it works.
"We could potentially see it as a model for other regions of the country," said Dr. John Jernigan, a CDC epidemiologist. "Perhaps, over time, we can have a national impact on this problem."
Discovered in the last decade, MRSA is routinely carried in the noses and sometimes on the skin of healthy people. It can cause abscesses and boils, but sometimes results in flulike symptoms or a pneumonia which can be fatal; it doesn't respond well to some antibiotics.
Although researchers say the infection is commonly found in hospitals, jails, gymnasiums and other environments where people come into skin-to-skin contact, a recent CDC study of 12,000 cases in Maryland, Georgia and Minnesota found one out of five was transmitted in the community at large.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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