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Rapid Test for MRSA Approved

THURSDAY, Jan. 3 -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first rapid test to detect the widely publicized drug-resistant staph bacterium known as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus).

Methicillin is an antibiotic that had been successful in treating the staph germ. But the bacterium has mutated in recent years and is becoming more resistant to the drug, increasing a victim's chances of acquiring a fatal infection. Staph infections are commonly acquired in hospitals, nursing homes, and in other institutions that host people with weakened immune systems.

The BD GeneOhm StaphSR Assay helps doctors identify whether a blood sample contains MRSA or a less dangerous form of staph, the FDA said in a statement released Wednesday. The test takes about two hours to produce results, versus the two-day wait associated with other tests.

While the less dangerous form of staph can lead to mild infections with symptoms that may include painful boil-like bumps, MRSA infections can trigger infections of the blood stream or pneumonia, the agency said.

In clinical testing, the new test correctly diagnosed 100 percent of the MRSA infections and more than 98 percent of the less dangerous staph infections.

The test is manufactured by BD Diagnostics of Franklin Lakes, N.J.

More information

The National Library of Medicine has more about MRSA.

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Posted: January 2008