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Medical News

MRSA Infection Spreads by Sex

January 11, 2007

In a new report, researchers say they have found that community-associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can be spread by sexual activity.

CDC's Rachel Gorwitz said the report is the first to document MRSA's spread through heterosexual activity. "MRSA is transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact, so it's not surprising it could be transmitted during sex," she said.

Columbia University Medical Center scientists examined 114 households in Manhattan where cases of the virulent, drug-resistant form of staph bacteria had been identified. They documented three cases in which MRSA had been passed between sexual partners. In two cases, the women reported they regularly shave their pubic area, and their sexual partners had "pimples" in the groin area, said the researchers. In the third, the woman had MRSA-positive abscesses on her buttock. Her husband later developed a rash and MRSA-positive boils on his body. One of the women also had herpes.

Though they once occurred primarily in hospital patients, MRSA infections in recent years have been recorded in young, healthy people -- such as football players and military recruits -- who had not been hospitalized,.

In a letter published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, James Roberts of Mercy Hospital of Philadelphia reported treating a lap dancer for MRSA boils on her buttocks. "She relayed that other lap dancers at her club had similar problems, considered a known occupational hazard by the women," wrote Roberts.

Frank Lowy, lead author of the Columbia study, said people should take precautions and refrain from sex if they have open lesions.

The report, "Heterosexual Transmission of Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus," was published in Clinical Infectious Diseases (2007;44:410-413). The letter, "Lap Dancer's Lament: An Occupational Hazard Related to Community-Associated Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus," was published in Annals of Emergency Medicine (2007;49(1):116-117).

Back to other news for January 11, 2007

Adapted from:
USA Today
01.11.2007; Anita Manning

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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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