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National News

Staph Infections Hit Atlanta Gay Men

March 5, 2003

Doctors in Atlanta report treating multiple cases of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) among gay men. The same infection has been reported on the West Coast and has drawn the attention of CDC. Until recently, MRSA affected mostly patients in hospitals and nursing homes. But since 1997, groups such as prison inmates, members of athletic teams, and, most recently, gay men, have contracted the drug-resistant infection. Dozens of gay men in Los Angeles and San Francisco have reported the staph infections, which can cause rapidly growing boils and abscesses.

There have been no reported deaths, CDC officials said, and those stricken so far have recovered after receiving potent antibiotics. In a Feb. 7 conference call, CDC officials informed the heads of gay community health clinics in seven cities about the MRSA outbreaks.

"We have seen several patients with MRSA among gay men, somewhere between five and eight over the past nine months or so," said David Melton, a physician with the Infectious Disease Group in Atlanta. Most of Melton's MRSA cases were in HIV-positive men, and none were in lesbians, although it's "certainly possible" for women to be infected, Melton said.

At least four Atlanta physicians confirmed new MRSA diagnoses among gay men. Those doctors account for at least a dozen cases, and there could "easily be 50 or more, there's no way to know," Melton said.

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Dr. Richard Hudson of Hudson Medical Group said he saw "two to three" cases of MRSA among HIV-positive gay men in the past year, but he does not believe HIV patients are "more at risk" than other people.

AID Atlanta's clinic diagnosed and treated two MRSA infections among gay men in the past few months, one requiring extensive hospitalization.

A CDC fact sheet on MRSA recommends regular hand washing with soap and water; keeping cuts and abrasions covered until healed; using a moisturizer on dry skin to prevent cracking; and avoiding contact with other people's wounds or material contaminated from wounds.

Health officials in Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett counties have seen no reports of MRSA, but "only an outbreak or a cluster is reportable," said Melissa Tobin-D'Angelo, a preventive medicine resident for the Georgia Department of Human Resources' Division of Public Health.

Back to other CDC news for March 5, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Southern Voice (Atlanta)
02.28.03; Jennifer J. Smith



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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