Deadly Staph Germ in US Beaches

Attention beach goers! A dip in the ocean may give you a deadly infections! Researchers at the University of Washington discovered a dangerous Staph bacteria in the sand and water at five beaches along the coast of Washington. The germ is a multidrug resistant form of Staphylococcus aureus and is commonly known as MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.


Marilyn Roberts, a microbiologist at the University of Washington and her team examined sand and water samples that were collected from 10 Washington beaches between February and September of 2008. The researchers identified Staphylococcus aureus on nine public beaches, and seven of the 13 samples were multidrug resistant, demonstrating resistance to vancomycin as well as other medications. Marilyn gave her report on Saturday at an American Society for Microbiology's Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in San Francisco.

According to Marilyn, five of the samples found on the beach and in the sand more closely resembled hospital-acquired MRSA than the bacteria found in the community. Three of the samples, from three beaches 10 miles apart, were virtually identical, she says. "One would think they came from the same source," Marilyn added. But it is not clear from where all of those organisms are coming from!

Well, this is not the first time that MRSA is found in marine water and beaches. Back in February, a group of researchers from the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine had also reported Staphylococcus aureus and MRSA in a South Florida beach.

People with a weak immune system and who have recently had surgery are the most vulnerable to MRSA infection. And even healthy people may carry MRSA without any symptoms, for periods ranging from a few weeks to many years. It means, you may already have the germ, even if no visible symptoms! Scary. Isn't it?