Staph Swaps Genes

WASHINGTON, DC-The leading health threat to hospitals and patients is a master of disguise. Staphylococcus aureus, more commonly known as Staph bacteria, has been found to swap genes with other bacteria to resist antibiotics.

A new report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says Staph grabs genes from nearby bacteria to prevent being susceptible to antibiotics.

Staph has become an increasing health threat since the 1980s when researchers realized the bacteria had developed antibacterial resistance. It is the most common human bacteria and is carried by an estimated third of the population. It can survive on surfaces, as well as the skin.

More than half of the fatalities before World War II were blamed on Staph infections. The smallest cuts could lead to death if they became infected by the bacteria. Antibiotics were found to restrict the infections, but their over used forced the bacteria to mutate and adapt.

Today, the health community is faced with the James Bond of bugs. It can disguise itself with different genetic material and is nearly impossible to kill. New strains of Staph that are resistant to current technologies are increasing.

The latest report says the bacteria will jump along other bacteria, picking up new strains of antibiotic resistant genes in the process.

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