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MRSA alert in gyms

A fresh warning over catching MRSA in gyms and health clubs is issued today. It comes after a woman died and at least 100 others were infected.


The new variety of the superbug is called Community-Acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA). It has been found in changing rooms and similar communal areas and can cause skin infections.

These show up as boils, abscesses and inflammations and can lead to a lethal type of pneumonia. Victims can become infected with CA-MRSA when the skin has been grazed. Experts said it was becoming a "significant threat outside healthcare settings" and is spreading.


Initially, MRSA was a problem affecting hospitals and nursing homes and was concentrated mainly among the elderly who have weaker immune systems. But infections are increasingly community-acquired and prevalent among young, otherwise healthy, adults.

The latest alert came after a 28-year-old woman who contracted CA-MRSA died from pneumonia. No other details of her case were available.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) in north London has studied cases which did not respond to usual treatments such as the penicillin class of antibiotics.

Dr Angela Kearns, head of the staphylococcus reference laboratory at the HPA, said: "In a handful of cases we have seen the infections passed between the members of the same family." She said the kind of boils caused by CA-MRSA "can be quite severe and may need hospitalisation and drainage".
Dr Kearns added: "In view of the small number of cases, it is difficult to say we should be alarmed but it is one of those situations where we need to remain vigilant." Dr Mark Enright at the University of Bath said: "MRSA is becoming a significant danger outside healthcare settings.

"These bugs are pandemic. It is more of a future threat in Britain than a current one, but they are taking it very seriously in the United States." In the early Eighties cases of CA-MRSA were reported in America, primarily among those with a history of injecting drugs. It has now spread throughout North America, causing outbreaks in the community and among prison inmates, sports teams and military units.

There have been cases in France and Germany. The number of deaths in Britain related to MRSA doubled in four years from 487 in 1999 to 955 in 2003

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