The team, led by researchers from the University of Maryland School of Public Health, report their findings in the November issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives .
Study leader Amy R Sapkota, assistant professor in the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, says in a statement:
” MRSA infections acquired outside of hospital settings — known as community-acquired MRSA or CA-MRSA — are on the rise and can be just as severe as hospital-acquired MRSA.”
But, she explains, how MRSA arises in the wider community and how healthy people become infected that way is still somewhat of a mystery.
We do know that people infected with the superbug shed it from their noses, their skin, and in their feces, so wastewater would be a logical place to look.
Researchers in Sweden have already reported finding MRSA in wastewater treatment plants in Sweden, but this study is thought to be the first to investigate wastewater as a potential reservoir of MRSA in the US. The Study For the study, the researchers collected samples of wastewater at different stages of the treatment process at two Mid-Atlantic and two Midwestern treatment plants.
One of the reasons the researchers picked these four plants, is because their effluent, after removal of solids and certain impurities, is used as reclaimed wastewater, for instance in landscape irrigation. They wanted to find out if MRSA was present in the effluent.
When they analyzed the samples, they found MRSA, plus another related pathogen, MSSA (methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus ) in all four plants.
MRSA was present in half of the samples, and MSSA was present in 55% of them.
When they looked at the samples taken at different stages of the process, they found MRSA was present in 83% of the