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Common European MRSA Originated In Africa, Research Finds

Update Date: Aug 26, 2014 09:08 AM EDT

The predominant strain of community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA), that infects people in Europe and Middle East and northern Africa originated from a single sub-Saharan ancestor, according to a new research. 

CA-MRSA is a MRSA infections that occur in healthy people with no recent hospitalizations. The infections are typically skin infections and can be transmitted through close person-to-person contact or contact with a contaminated item like a towel clothing. 

"With increasing levels of CA-MRSA reported from most parts of the Western world, there is a great interest in understanding the origin and factors associated with the emergence of these epidemic lineages," said lead study author Marc Stegger, PhD, of the Department of Microbiology and Infection Control at the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark, in the press release. "Our study determined that a single descendant of a methicillin-sensitive ancestor circulating in sub-Saharan Africa rose to become the dominant CA-MRSA clone in Europe, the Middle East and north Africa."

Researchers analyzed 97 S. aureus CC80 samples from 22 countries in Europe, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia isolated between 1993 and 2010. They found that 23 samples were sensitive to methicillin while 74 where resistant to it. 

The methicillin-sensitive S. aureus prevailed in sub-Saharan Western Africa which might be the result of a local human migration pattern, researchers added.

The study has been published this week in mBio

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