Thursday, June 22, 2006


Unlicensed tattoo artists blamed for spread of superbug

Straight from the Associated Press:
By MIKE STOBBE, Associated Press Writer
Thu Jun 22, 3:41 PM ET

Link: MRSA spreading in unlike places

ATLANTA - A worrisome superbug seen in prisoners and athletes is also showing up in people who get illegal tattoos, federal health officials said Thursday.

Forty-four tattoo customers in Ohio, Kentucky and Vermont developed skin infections caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The infections occurred in 2004 and 2005, and were traced to 13 unlicensed tattoo artists, according to an article in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

These are the first documented cases if tattoo-related MRSA infections, said Dr. Mysheika LeMaile-Williams, a CDC infectious disease investigator who co-authored the report.

MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant bacteria that fights off the body's immune system and destroys tissues. The community-associated variety, seen in the tattoo infections, has been diagnosed in otherwise healthy athletes, military recruits and prison inmates.

The skin infections can be transmitted from person to person by contact with draining sores, or through contact with contaminated items or surfaces. MRSA generally causes mild skin infections, but in some cases has led to pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and a painful, flesh-destroying condition called necrotizing fasciitis.

Clusters of MRSA cases were seen in Ohio in June 2004, November 2004 and April 2005, involving 33 people. A four-person cluster was reported in Kentucky in May 2005 and a seven-person cluster was in Vermont in August.

Four of the patients were hospitalized, but all recovered, LeMaile-Williams said.

Ohio, Kentucky and Vermont require licensing for tattoo artists, but all the affected customers went to unlicensed artists. Instead of doing the work in tattoo parlors, the body art was done in the homes of the tattooists or the recipients, or even in public places such as a park.

The tattooists sometimes did not use masks or gloves, did not properly disinfect skin and did not properly clean the equipment. One Ohio tattooist used a homemade tattoo gun made from a computer ink-jet cartridge and guitar strings, LeMaile-Williams said.

Three of the Ohio tattooists had recently been jailed, she said.

Customers sometimes seek out unlicensed tattooists because their services are less expensive, or because they are younger than 18 and cannot go to a licensed tattooist without parental consent, she said.

Several of the infected patients were under 18, she added.

The tattoo cases are not surprising, said Dr. Kate Heilpern, an Atlanta emergency room physician and Emory University researcher who has studied MRSA.

The superbug is appearing in locker rooms, homes and many other unsterile places where people are in skin-to-skin contact.

"We are still riding a big wave of this bacterial infection and I really don't see any end in sight," she said.

COMMON SENSE: MRSA used to be confined to seriously ill patients and was seen primarily in hospital intensive care units. Well, guess what? It's out! It is a growing superbug and it will spread. So while you're taking precautions against the avian flu, watch out for this antibiotic-resistant bacteria. By the way, (hint, hint) Active Honey will kill the MRSA strain when antibiotics fail. Start your honey treatment early - it won't hurt, and it may just save your life!


At 8:58 PM, Blogger Helen said...

I have a friend here in New Zealand who is a nurse. She contracted this bug while nursing back in the UK her home country and is unable to go back to nursing here in NZ untill she is clear of this bug.

Nothing she was give to deal with the bug was working untill she tried bathing in bathewater that had manuka honey added to it and then it started to clear up.

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Manuka Mom said...

UCLA Study Finds MRSA Most Common Cause of Skin Infections in Patients Presenting in Nation's Emergency Rooms

Date: August 16, 2006
Contact: Rachel Champeau (
Phone: 310-794-2270

Think that's a spider bite on your arm? Think again. It could be methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a type of staph infection seen increasingly in communities across the nation that is resistant to antibiotics most commonly used to treat skin infections.

UCLA researchers report in the Aug. 17 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine that MRSA is the most common cause of skin and soft-tissue infections among patients presenting in emergency rooms across the country. MRSA is resistant to the antibiotics used for years to treat these skin conditions, such as cephalexin and dicloxacillin.

"The study points to the rising prevalence of this type of MRSA and the need for clinicians to culture infections and make sure the proper antibiotic is administered to treat MRSA," said Dr. Gregory J. Moran, the study's principal investigator and a clinical professor of medicine in the department of emergency medicine and the division of infectious diseases at Olive View–UCLA Medical Center.

Since the 1960s, MRSA has been found in health care settings, generally among patients who have been hospitalized or are in nursing homes. In the last few years, however, a new type of MRSA has emerged, affecting people with no connection to health care settings. Outbreaks of these new strains of MRSA have been reported among athletes, correctional facility inmates and military recruits. Still, the UCLA study demonstrates that the infections appear to be common in people who are not connected to any particular risk group.

"We noticed more patients showing up in our emergency room with infections that turned out to be community-associated MRSA and wanted to see if this was the case nationwide," said Dr. David Talan, an author of the study and a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases and chief of the department of emergency medicine at Olive View–UCLA Medical Center.

Community-associated MRSA most often manifests itself on the skin as a boil or pimple that can be swollen, red and painful, and have discharge.

Researchers cultured the acute skin or soft-tissue infections of 422 patients seen at 11 metropolitan emergency rooms in the United States during August 2004.

Out of those patients, 249, or 59 percent, were found to have MRSA. The proportion of infections caused by MRSA in various cities ranged from 15 to 74 percent.

Further characterization of the MRSA samples, performed at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, revealed that one genetic type accounted for 97 percent of the samples.

"This one genetic type of MRSA is appearing in metropolitan areas across the country," Moran said. "More research will determine how prevalent it is in other parts of the nation."

Researchers tested the antibiotic resistance of the isolated MRSA samples and found that in 57 percent of cases, doctors had prescribed an antibiotic to which the bacteria were resistant.

"Doctors need to change what they've done for decades, since traditional antibiotics don't work against MRSA," Talan said. "We encourage physicians to reconsider antibiotic choices for skin and soft-tissue infections in areas where MRSA is prevalent in the community."

Talan notes that most MRSA cases are mild, and having the infection drained and keeping it clean resolves the problem. But when antibiotics are needed, it's important to prescribe an effective medication. Sometimes these infections may require hospitalization and, in rare cases, may even be life-threatening.

"It's important for us to identify and properly treat MRSA in order to halt further progression of serious infections and to prevent recurrence," Moran said.

Researchers tested the effectiveness of different types of antibiotics on the MRSA samples and found that 95 percent were susceptible to clindamycin, 6 percent to erythromycin, 60 percent to fluoroquinolones, 100 percent to rifampin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and 92 percent to tetracycline.

The next step, according to Moran, is to compare these different antibiotics in real patients in order to identify an optimal treatment.

The study revealed several potential risk factors for community-associated MRSA. Patients with MRSA were more likely to report a spider bite as the reason for the skin lesion, perhaps thinking it was a bite in absence of other skin problems. Those with MRSA also were more likely to have close contact with a person with a similar infection.

"However, none of these risk factors were consistent enough to help doctors identify cases of MRSA — it appears now that everyone is at risk," Moran said. "So if you think you have a spider bite or other type of skin lesion that is not healing, you want to see your doctor to make sure it's not an infection like MRSA."

Dr. Rachel J. Gorwitz, an author of the study and a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted the importance of educating patients in order to avoid transmission. She offered the following guidance:

· Wash hands often with soap and water to keep them clean, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (if hands are not visibly soiled).

· Don't share towels, razors or other personal items.

· Avoid contact with other people's wounds or bandages.

· Keep breaks in your skin clean and covered and watch for signs of infection, such as redness, warmth and swelling.

· See your doctor if you notice signs of infection; don't try to drain a boil yourself at home.

· If you have a skin infection, keep the infected area covered with a clean, dry bandage until it is healed; wash your hands thoroughly after changing the bandage and put used bandages in the trash.

For more information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at

Emergency rooms in the following cities were involved in the research: Albuquerque, N.M.; Atlanta, Ga.; Charlotte, N.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Minneapolis, Minn.; New Orleans, La.; New York, N.Y.; Philadelphia, Pa.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and Portland, Ore.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funded the study.

Other study authors include: Anusha Krishnadasan, Ph.D., from the department of emergency medicine at Olive View–UCLA Medical Center; Gregory E. Fosheim, M.P.H., Linda K. McDougal, M.S., and Roberta B. Carey, Ph.D., from the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion at the National Center for Infectious Diseases of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.


Link at:

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Manuka Mom said...

Staph Skin Infections on Rise in U.S.

AP Medical Writer
Aug 17, 7:07 PM EDT

Staph Infections on the Rise

A once-rare drug-resistant germ now appears to cause more than half of all skin infections treated in U.S. emergency rooms, say researchers who documented the superbug's startling spread in the general population.

Many victims mistakenly thought they just had spider bites that wouldn't heal, not drug-resistant staph bacteria. Only a decade ago, these germs were hardly ever seen outside of hospitals and nursing homes.

Doctors also were caught off-guard - most of them unwittingly prescribed medicines that do not work against the bacteria.

"It is time for physicians to realize just how prevalent this is," said Dr. Gregory Moran of Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, who led the study.

Another author, Dr. Rachel Gorwitz of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said: "I think no one was aware of the extent of the problem."

Skin infections can be life-threatening if bacteria get into the bloodstream. Drug-resistant strains can also cause a vicious type of pneumonia and even "flesh-eating" wounds.

The CDC paid for the study, published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. Several authors have consulted for companies that make antibiotics.

Researchers analyzed all skin infections among adults who went to hospital emergency rooms in 11 U.S. cities in August 2004. Of the 422 cases, 249, or 59 percent, were caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Such bacteria are impervious to the penicillin family of drugs long used for treatment.

The proportion of infections due to MRSA ranged from 15 percent to as high as 74 percent in some hospitals.

"This completely matches what our experience at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital has been," said Dr. Buddy Creech, an infectious-disease specialist whose hospital was not included in the study. "Usually what we see is a mom or dad brings their child in with what they describe as a spider bite that's not getting better or a pimple that's not getting better," and it turns out to be MRSA.

The germ typically thrives in health-care settings where people have open wounds and tubes. But in recent years, outbreaks have occurred among prisoners, children and athletes, with the germ spreading through skin contact or shared items such as towels. Dozens of people in Ohio, Kentucky and Vermont recently got MRSA skin infections from tattoos.

The good news: MRSA infections contracted outside a hospital are easier to treat. The study found that several antibiotics work against them, including some sulfa drugs that have been around for decades. A separate study in the journal reports the effectiveness of Cubicin, an antibiotic recently approved to treat bloodstream infections and heart inflammation caused by MRSA.

However, doctors need to test skin infections to see what germ is causing them, and to treat each one as if it were MRSA until test results prove otherwise, researchers said.

"We have made a fundamental shift in pediatrics in our area" and now assume that every such case is the drug-resistant type, Creech said.

And, doctors need to lance the wound to get rid of bacteria rather than relying on a drug to do the job.

"The most important treatment is actually draining the pus," Gorwitz said. Many times that is a cure all by itself, she said.

The study was done in Albuquerque, N.M.; Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New Orleans; New York; Philadelphia; Phoenix; and Portland, Ore.

At 4:41 AM, Anonymous joanna said...

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