MRSA Infections Double Among IV Drug Users

MRSA superbug infections doubled among injection drug users in the United States over five years, according to a federal government study released Thursday.

The study also said injection drug users are 16 times more likely to develop serious illness from MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria, the Associated Press reported.

Rates of invasive, bloodstream-infecting MRSA cases among injection drug users rose from 4 percent of all cases in 2011 to 9 percent in 2016, the study reported.

The findings are based on 2005 to 2016 data from hospitals across Connecticut and in parts of California, Georgia, Minnesota, New York and Tennessee, the AP reported.

There were about 39,000 recorded cases of invasive MRSA, including about 2,100 among people who inject drugs.

MRSA often live on the skin without causing symptoms, but can pose a threat if they enter the bloodstream. Health officials say MRSA may cause as many as 11,000 deaths a year in the United States, the AP reported.

MRSA "is on the skin, and as the needle goes into the skin it brings the bacteria with it," study co-author Dr. Isaac See, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, explained.

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