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UA researchers find MRSA in offices, vehicles, homes

Jonathan Sexton, a graduate assistant researcher at the University of Arizona, conducted a study on MRSA to see how prevalent the infection is in public places including restrooms, offices, public transportation and automobiles.

The study was presented at the 107th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in May.

Staphylococcus aureus is commonly found on the skin and in the noses of healthy individuals. It may cause infections with symptoms ranging from pimples, boils and other skin conditions to life-threatening pneumonias and blood stream infections.

Some strains have developed resistance to many commonly administered antibiotics, including methicillin. Those strains are known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus or MRSA.

The study found that S. aureus was detected in 32.4 percent of tested automobiles on steering wheels and seat belt buckles. Nine percent of that was methicillin resistant.

S. aureus was found in 16 percent of offices sampled with 33 percent of that being MRSA. Desktops and phones were the most common site that contained MRSA.

Only 6.3 percent of public restrooms were positive for S. aureus and MRSA.

Another UA researcher, Kelly Reynolds, conducted a home hygiene study in which she identified MRSA in soft surfaces, including carpets and towels.

Reynolds is an associate professor in the community, environment and policy division at the UA Zuckerman College of Public Health.

Neither of the researchers could be reached late Thursday.

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