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National Briefing / Washington State

Deadly bacteria found at beaches

September 13, 2009|Times Wire Reports

Dangerous staph bacteria have been found in sand and water for the first time at five public beaches along the coast here.

The germ is MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus -- a hard-to-treat bug once rarely seen outside of hospitals but that increasingly is spreading in settings such as schools, locker rooms and gyms. It causes skin infections, pneumonia and other life-threatening problems, and spreads mostly through human contact.

Researchers tested 10 beaches in Washington from February to September 2008. Staph bacteria were found at nine of them, including five with MRSA, said Marilyn Roberts, a microbiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. No staph was found in samples from two beaches in Southern California.

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