Dr. Kevin Purcell of Driscoll Children's Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, found the bacterium, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, is causing an increasing number of skin infections, pneumonia and even necrotizing fasciitis -- sometimes called "flesh-eating bacteria," ABC News reported Monday.
Purcell's team tracked the records of S. aureus infections in Driscoll Children's Hospital and its clinic, comparing data from 2002 and 2003 with that from 1990 to 2001, including whether those cases were community acquired as opposed to hospital acquired.
"We are seeing over 500 cases a year in the hospital, clinic and emergency department," said Purcell. "In the mid-90s, we had about five cases a year."
Add Purcell: "We are not quite sure why we are seeing so many of these out in the community, and why the number has skyrocketed so fast. These community-acquired MRSA infections are genetically different than hospital-acquired. It's a new strain of the bacteria that is out there in the community and it's different."