FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Doctors in Florida say infections from a relatively mild variety of drug-resistant bacteria are causing painful and ugly wounds that can linger for weeks.
The bacterium is methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, but infectious disease experts said it's not the dangerous "killer bacteria" strain that kills thousands of hospital patients annually.
Some infectious disease doctors and emergency rooms said they were seeing more cases and suggested people take precautions.
"It's more disfiguring than anything else," Dr. Latha Srinath, a specialist in Boynton Beach, told the South Florida Sen Sentinel.
"These are young people coming in with multiple abscesses and infections that don't go away after repeated treatments with antibiotics. At any given day at my offices, I have two or three new referrals, which is a lot."
The infections are being caused by "community-acquired" MRSA that lives on the skin and nasal passages, spread through skin-to-skin contact and fluids such as sweat, Srinath said.
Patients rarely need to be hospitalized but many require second or third doctor visits when drugs do not clear up the infection, experts said.
The rise in community-acquired MRSA cases may be the result of more people and doctors being aware of it and looking for it, Dr. Larry Bush, an infectious disease expert in Atlanta, said.
"It's a problem. It's a nuisance. It's not life-threatening," Bush said.