Drug-resistant bacteria were detected in sand and water at five public beaches along Washington coast and the state's beaches may not be the only ones with this type of contamination, according to scientists.
Previously, the dangerous methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was rarely seen outside of hospitals but is increasingly being found in community locations such as gyms, schools and locker rooms, the Associated Press reported.
This new finding suggests that beaches may be another location where people pick up MRSA, which can cause serious skin infections as well as pneumonia and other life-threatening problems.
"We don't know about the risk" for a people at the beach, Marilyn Roberts, a microbiologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, told the AP. "But the fact that we found these organisms (at the beaches) suggests that the level is much higher than we had thought."
For this study, Roberts and colleagues tested 10 coastal beaches in Washington and found staph bacteria at nine of them, including five with MRSA. The findings were presented on the weekend at an American Society for Microbiology conference.