Maryland tests confirm MRSA in fatal flu cases

Mar 9, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – Maryland health officials today confirmed that at least 2 of 4 members of a Calvert County family who had severe influenza were co-infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

In a statement today, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (MDHMH) confirmed what some health officials had already suspected. It also said the state lab has confirmed that all four patients were infected with the H3N2 strain, which is circulating in Maryland and has been the nation's dominant strain this flu season. In an earlier statement, the department had confirmed seasonal H3N2 in two of the patients.

The MDHMH, along with county health officials, has been investigating the cluster of severe respiratory infections that led to the deaths of an 81-year-old woman from Lusby and two adult children who cared for her after she got sick and until she died on Mar 1. Another of the woman's daughters is hospitalized with similar symptoms.

So far no other related severe respiratory illnesses have been confirmed, and no similar clusters have been identified, the MDHMH said.

In its confirmation of the two MRSA co-infections, the department said that S aureus infection is a known complication of influenza infection.

Officials warned that flu season can last as late as May and said seasonal flu vaccination is the best way to prevent flu and related complications that can be severe. The DHMDH also urged Maryland residents to take basic flu precautions, such as hand washing and staying home when sick.

See also:

Mar 9 MDHMH press release

Mar 8 CIDRAP News story "MRSA pneumonia suspected in fatal flu cluster"

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