1 May 2013

MRSA rates for Maori far worse than reported

6:33 am on 1 May 2013

A south Auckland doctor says the number of Maori contracting the MRSA superbug is far worse than reported in a new study.

MRSA, or meticillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, causes skin and soft tissue infections, and is resistant to antibiotics.

A study, led by Environmental Science and Research, shows the number of Maori contracting the superbug increased by more than 500% between 2005 and 2011, to 40 in every 100,000.

However Turuki Healthcare in Mangere says the figures don't accurately reflect what is happening in his community.

clinical director Nathan Joseph said he and his colleagues see children every day with scabs and other infections, and a large number of them have the superbug.

Dr Joseph said he would not be surprised if the rate amongst his young patients was more like 20 in 100.

He said more needs to be done to tackle poverty, sub-standard housing and overcrowding in Maori communities, in order to stop the spread of the bacteria.

The Ministry of Health says it will take a close look at the report.