MRSA and Dental Students: Infections Found More Commonly In Dental Schools

MRSA, the drug-resistant strain of staph is being found at an alarming rate among dental students says a new study.

According to researchers the bacteria is often found around the nose and on the skin making it a prime target for dentists who work in close proximity to the face.

Nasal swabs were taken at the University of Washington (UAW) Dental School and the study revealed that one in five students showed evidence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The study also found that four of seven dental clinics at the school also tested positive for MRSA when swabs were taken from dental chairs and floors.

The study is important because it shows significantly higher colonization levels at dental schools then in the general population, although researchers do point out that the number of cases found in their study is not necessarily indicative of national levels at other dental office locations.

Researchers also point out that the number of MRSA cases have been rising in general making it a significant cause of illness and death among hospital patients who already have compromised immune systems. Although some studies have shown that hospital-acquired MRSA cases have fallen in the last few years while community-acquired (outside of the hospital) cases have risen.

Before everyone goes running for the hills it should be noted that MRSA typically only causes harm to people with compromised immune systems and the elderly while research has suggested that the number of MRSA cases found in dental offices is not significant enough to cause threat to most of the general population.

Are you worried about the increasing number of MRSA cases found in the general public?