The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a clarifying statement about recent news reports on MRSA infections among gay men.

The reports, based on a study published in an issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine Journal, suggested that a particularly difficult-to-treat strain of the bacterium was becoming increasingly prevalent among gay men in San Francisco – and warned that it could spread among men who have sex with men (MSM) in other cities.

A number of right wing groups picked up on the reports and have used these as an example of how the gay community is threat to others.

The CDC has attempted to clarify the issue and quell any panic, explaining that MRSA is a common cause of skin infections and that these occur in men, women, adults, children, and persons of all races and sexual orientations.

“MRSA is typically transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, which occurs during a variety of activities, including sex. There is no evidence at this time to suggest that it is a sexually-transmitted infection in the classical sense.”

The organisation goes on to say that the strains of MRSA described in the journal have mostly been identified in certain groups of MSM, but have also been found in some persons who are not MSM.

“It is important to note that the groups of MSM in which these isolates have been described are not representative of all MSM, so conclusions cannot be drawn about the prevalence of these strains among all MSM. The groups studied in this report may share other characteristics or behaviours that facilitate spread of MRSA, such as frequent skin-to-skin contact,” reads the statement.

The CDC further adds that “extensive and continuing study of invasive MRSA in nine US states indicates that these strains are rare,” and that while these bacteria are becoming resistant to more antibiotics than the typical MRSA,” there are still effective choices available to treat infections when antibiotics are required, including those antibiotics given by mouth.”

The organisation recommends a number of steps to prevent spreading MRSA skin infections, all of which include basic hygiene: Keeping wounds covered and clean, washing hands frequently after being in contact with a wound, and not sharing person items such as towels or clothes that have been in contact with a wound.

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