Current Treatments Prove Effective Against MRSA Infections

High cure rates for MRSA infections observed with certain antimicrobials.

Drug-resistant bacteria has become a substantial public health concern. Although developing novel drugs to combat drug-resistant superbugs is important, investigators are also examining the potential of current antimicrobials to fight the bacteria.

Specifically, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria are well-known for being extremely resistant to numerous antibiotics. MRSA commonly causes skin infections, but can also lead to serious or life-threatening infections that can spread to other parts of the body.

Investigators have discovered that common antimicrobials may help patients heal from a MRSA skin abscess, according to a new study published by The New England Journal of Medicine. These findings suggest that current treatments for MRSA may still be effective against the bacteria.

Included in the study were 796 adult and pediatric patients with small, uncomplicated skin abscesses. As a part of standard treatment, all patients had their abscesses opened and drained.

After drainage, patients were sorted into treatment groups: the first group received clindamycin, the second group received trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX), and the third group received a placebo, according to the study. All patients were administered 10 days of oral treatment with the drugs.

The authors discovered that 81.7% of patients treated with clindamycin were cured of the infection, while the TMP-SMX had a cure rate of 84.6%. In comparison, only 62.9% of patients in the placebo group were cured.

These findings contradict popular opinion that antimicrobial treatment is not effective against MRSA skin infections, according to the study.

The authors noted that the current findings confirm other studies that found TMP-SMX treatment was more effective than placebo and that clindamycin and TMP-SMX are similarly effective against the infection.

However, the authors cautioned that the side effects of both clindamycin and TMP-SMX can be severe. Patients may experience nausea, diarrhea, and potential infections of Clostridium difficile, according to the study.

“Antibiotic-related side effects, particularly if frequent or serious, should be taken into account when deciding whether to treat a drained abscess with an antibiotic,” the authors wrote.

Additionally, the authors warned that some strains of the bacteria are resistant to clindamycin, making the therapy ineffective for certain patients, according to the study.

The authors concluded that healthcare providers should understand the risks of side effects with the benefits of the microbial drugs for MRSA skin abscesses.

“In conclusion, our results show that short-term outcomes among patients with uncomplicated cutaneous abscesses, particularly those caused by S. aureus, are improved by antibiotic treatment with either clindamycin or TMP-SMX in addition to abscess incision and drainage,” the authors wrote.