Study: Superbugs emerge among urban poor

CHICAGO - Drug-resistant staph infections have spread to the urban poor, rising almost seven-fold in recent years in some Chicago neighborhoods, a new study finds.

Researchers said the crowded living conditions of public housing and jails may speed up the person-to-person spread of infection.

The superbugs, first seen mainly in hospitals and nursing homes, have turned up recently among athletes, prisoners and people who get illegal tattoos.

Called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, these staph germs can cause skin infections that in rare cases have led to pneumonia, bloodstream infections and a painful, flesh-destroying condition. MRSA is hard to treat because the bacteria have developed resistance to the penicillin drug family.

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