A new strain of the "flesh-eating" bacteria MRSA is spreading rapidly among gay men in Boston and San Francisco and there are warnings it could extend to a larger population, the New York Times reports. The drug-resistant strain seems to be spreading largely by sexual contact, but it can also be passed via skin contact or simply by touching a contaminated surface, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Researchers warned the new strain “has the potential for rapid, nationwide dissemination" among gay men. "Once this reaches the general population, it will be truly unstoppable," a doctor warned. "That's why we're trying to spread the message of prevention." He added that careful washing with soap and water is the best way to avoid infection. Nearly 19,000 people died in the US from MRSA infections in 2005.