Delaware man contracts rare, drug-resistant infection

    A New Castle County man is only the 13th person in the country to develop a rare staph infection that is typically resistant to two types of antibiotics used to treat the bacteria.

    Three of the country’s cases have now been in Delaware.

    The infection is vancomycin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infection, or VRSA.

    Vancomycin is a drug used to treat MRSA, a more common and contagious type of staph resistant to first-line treatments that is increasingly being contracted outside of the hospital setting.

    VRSA, the newly discovered type of infection in Delaware, is often resistant to both the front-line drugs and vancomycin.

    “From our perspective, it’s a really really concerning resistance pattern because you have this dual resistance,” said Dr. Trish Perl, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins. “What has been the savior, if you will, in all of this is that it does not appear to have been very transmissible.”

    Dr. Neil Fishman, associate chief medical officer at University of Pennsylvania Health System, said there are other antibiotics that treat this strain, so it is not the most worrisome bug out there.

    “Resistance is a big problem that we’re dealing with, but I am much more concerned about other organisms for which we do not have any antibiotics,” Fishman said. “And those bacteria are becoming much more prevalent.”

    None of the 13 VRSA patients has died from the infection.

    People developing VRSA infections often have underlying health conditions, as did the 70-year-old New Castle County man who just developed it.

    Delaware Division of Public Health representatives said they are working to determine how the infection was contracted, but there is no public health threat.

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