Scientists are warning about a new strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that can cause a deadly form of pneumonia in people with the flu. Death rates may be higher than 50 percent.
The new form of the antibiotic resistant superbug is called community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) because, unlike most forms of MRSA, this one poses a significant risk to people outside of hospitals, BBC News reported.
Although exact figures aren't available, CA-MRSA is becoming more widespread, said researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta who analyzed cases of CA-MRSA.
"Community-acquired MRSA infections are no longer restricted to certain risk groups or to the geographic areas where outbreaks first occurred," they wrote in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases. "They now occur widely both in the community as well as health care facilities and have been reported on every continent."
They warned that the current swine flu outbreak could increase the risk posed by CA-MRSA, which appears to strike people who are already ill with flu, BBC News reported.