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SuperStaph: Tracking a Virulent New Community-Bred MRSA

Reported by
Marcia Stone

Posted April 09, 2007

Presented By


The Staphylococcus aureus so firmly entrenched in our hospitals are very resistant to antibiotics, but they're not exceptionally aggressive. They don't have to be; their preferred prey are usually weakened inpatients. And until recently, we've assumed that any antibiotic-resistant Staph in our communities originated in a healthcare facility, which would be unwanted, but certainly not unexpected or particularly dangerous to the general public. This belief was put to rest for good on January 17, 2007, when Barry Kreiswirth from the Public Health Research Institute in New Jersey profiled a new strain of methicillin-resistant S. aureus, a "newly built" bacterium, born in the community and behaving quite differently than its hospital-bred relatives.

Use the tabs above to view the meeting report and multimedia presentation.

Web Sites

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitors and prevents disease outbreaks, implements disease prevention strategies, and maintains national health statistics. CDC also guards against international disease transmission, with personnel stationed in more than 25 foreign countries. It has web pages on both healthcare-associated MRSA and community-associated MRSA.

The World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nations specialized agency for health and tracks emerging infections worldwide. It has information about the worldwide spread of MRSA.

Journal Articles

Chambers HF. 2005. Community-Associated MRSA—resistance and virulence converge. N. Engl. J. Med. 352: 1485-1487.

Charlebois ED, Perdreau-Remington F, Kreiswirth B, et al. 2004. Origins of community strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Clin. Infect. Dis. 39: 47-54. FULL TEXT

Hiramatsu K, Katayama Y, Yuzawa H, Ito T. 2002. Molecular genetics of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Int. J. Med. Microbiol. 292: 67-74.

Ito T, Katayama Y, Asada K, et al. 2001. Structural comparison of three types of staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec integrated in the chromosome in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 45: 1323-1336. FULL TEXT

Kondo Y, Ito T, Ma XX, et al. 2007. Combination of multiplex PCRs for staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec type assignment: rapid identification system for mec, ccr, and major differences in junkyard regions. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 51: 264-274.

Saïd-Salim B, Mathema B, Braughton K, et al. 2005. Differential distribution and expression of Panton-Valentine leucoidin among community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus strains. J. Clin. Microbiol. 43: 3373-3379. FULL TEXT

Saïd-Salim B, Mathema B, Kreiswirth BN. 2003. Community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: an emerging pathogen. Infect. Control and Hosp. Epidemiol. 24: 451-455. (PDF, 124 KB) FULL TEXT

Saiman L, O'Keefe M, Graham PL 3rd, et al. 2003. Hospital transmission of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus among postpartum women. Clin. Infect. Dis. 37: 1313-1319. FULL TEXT

Voyich JM, Braughton KR, Sturdevant DE, et al. 2005. Insights into mechanisms used by Staphylococcus aureus to avoid destruction by human neutrophils. J. Immunol. 175: 3907-3919. FULL TEXT

Voyich JM, Otto M, et al. 2006. Is Panton-Valentine leukocidin the major virulence determinant in community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus disease? J. Infect Dis. 194: 1761-1770.


Barry Kreiswirth, PhD

Public Health Research Institute
email | web site | publications

Barry Kreiswirth joined the Public Health Research (PHRI) in 1978 as a graduate student in Richard Novick's laboratory to work on the molecular biology of Staphylococcus aureus. His doctoral thesis was on the cloning of this bacterium and the genetic characterization of its toxic shock syndrome (TSS) toxin-1. Kreiswirth remained in the Novick laboratory as a post-doctoral fellow and research assistant, continuing his investigation into the molecular epidemiology of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA).

Fourteen years later, in response the New York City outbreak, Kreiswirth became the director of PHRI's Tuberculosis Center. However, despite the extensive investment in tuberculosis research, the Center has not abandoned its interest in the molecular typing of MRSA and recently developed a rapid DNA-sequenced-based genotyping method enabling scientists to accurately sub-speciate strains of staphylococcus. This approach has been adapted to identify a variety of hospital-acquired pathogens and is now used to construct a nosocomial surveillance database in collaboration with the New Jersey Department of Health and Hospitals.

Marcia Stone

Marcia Stone, a science writer based in New York City and longtime member of the Academy's Microbiology Section, discovered bacterial genetics at the Harvard Medical School in the late 1980s and has been an avid fan of prokaryotes ever since. More of her work can be found at