September 13, 2009
Staph Bacterium Present On Several Washington Beaches
Treacherous staph bacteria has been discovered in both the sand and water at five public beaches in Washington, and scientists are certain that the state is not the only one burdened with this issue.
The methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a drug resistant disease once hardly found away from hospitals, has spread more and more in regular settings like schools and gyms.
The germ creates risky skin infections, pneumonia and other harmful problems. It is spread mainly through contact with other people.
Detecting it at the beach implies that is migrating through people, Marilyn Roberts, a microbiologist at the University of Washington, said to AP News.
"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 released her results Saturday at the American Society for Microbiology conference. In 2008, her team found the enterococci bacteria at five different West Coast beaches. In early 2009, University of Miami researchers found staph bacteria in 4 of 10 ocean water samples at a South Florida beach.
In the new study, researchers pulled samples from 10 beaches in Washington February through September of 2008. A staph bacterium was present in nine of the samples.
People should not stay away from beaches because of this, scientists noted.
"It's probably prudent to shower when you come out" to reduce the chance of bacteria remaining on the skin, mentioned Dr. Lance Peterson, a microbiologist at NorthShore University Health System in Evanston, Ill.
"Make sure you get all the sand off," and wrap open cuts and scrapes, Roberts added.
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