Scientists have unearthed what could be a valuable weapon on one of the key frontiers, discovering an extract from the Brazilian peppertree, an invasive weed found commonly across Florida, that can neutralize a dangerous antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria called Staphylococcus auereus.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus auereus is a type of staph bacteria that has become resistant to many common antibiotics. Once mostly limited to nursing homes and hospitals, it has more recently spread to more common places like schools and gyms, where it can cause skin infections, bloodstream infections, sepsis and death.
The news isn't all bad on the MRSA front. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the percentage of Staphylococcus auereus resistant to the antibiotic methicillin has decreased significantly in recent years, as have the number of life-threatening MRSA infections in healthcare settings, resulting in 9,000 fewer deaths in hospital patients in 2011 than in 2005.