San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

August 9th, 2009
MRSA study garners grant

STAFF REPORT

Rodney E. Rohde, associate professor in the Clinical Laboratory Science program at Texas State, recently received a $5,000 renewable grant from the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Scientists for his research project, “Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA): Knowledge, Learning and Adaptation.”

The grant will go towards the completion of his doctorate work with MRSA, a vicious, more resistant form of what is commonly known as a Staph infection. A growing health care concern, MRSA can be associated with many ailments, from normal skin problems to those leading to fatality.

“One to three percent of the general population is known to carry MRSA,” Rohde said. “What I mean by ‘carry’ is that you can walk around with it and not show signs of sickness, but the potential is there to infect yourself and others.”

While MRSA is predominately spread by person-to-person contact, it is possible to also be transmitted by contaminated surfaces and objects.

“The big areas you see this explode in are in areas of close living or poor hygiene, like prisons, athletic facilities and university dorms,” said Rhode. “Places where certain items are inevitably shared.”

Rhodes chief goal with his research is to help build public health policy and models on how to deal with MSRA infections and other problems surrounding the condition.

“Many of the people in the general community aren’t aware of what to do, where to go or who to see,” Rohde said. “All of these are critical questions that they need answers to, whether about themselves or loved ones. This bug has adapted to people taking antibiotics for decades and has developed ways to resist. I want to help people be able to adapt to this disease.”

Rohde’s university MRSA pilot prevalence study will be published in the journal Clinical Laboratory Science this month. His co-authors, Aaron Brannon and Rebecca Denham, were both undergraduates when the study was conducted.

Rohde mentored the undergrads throughout their MSRA research project, developing a study based on carriage rates and characterization of students at a university, using Texas State as their study site.

“MRSA is a hot topic nowadays,” Denham said, “and there weren’t any other studies about it in dorms. The information is important because college health care personnel should be aware of the changing epidemiology of MRSA, how it is transmitted, and preventative measures needed to avoid outbreaks on campus.”

The study is the first publication from the Clinical Laboratory Science program to be co-authored by undergraduate students.

“We really wanted to go out and strive to do more,” Brannon said. “And it’s exciting to think that as undergrads, we were able to be recognized for what we’ve been working on since 2007. “

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