NWC scientists to help investigate superbug infections

Dr. Elizabeth Truesdell, a biology professor at Northwestern College, and her students are teaming with researchers at the University of Iowa and physicians at the Hawarden Community Clinic to investigate methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections in northwest Iowa.

MRSA has been called a “superbug” because of its resistance to antibiotics, which makes infections caused by MRSA very difficult to treat and potentially lethal. It has been researched extensively in hospitals and other clinical settings but is less studied in rural areas, where MRSA has been known to spread and can infect livestock.

Individuals who have a potential staph infection will be offered enrollment in the study by their healthcare providers at the Hawarden clinic. Participation will involve completing a questionnaire and submitting to a swab of the infected area.

Truesdell’s students, members of Northwestern’s Future Physicians Club, will gain hands-on clinical research experience as they extract data from patient records and evaluate it for contributing factors to MRSA.

The study is being funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Researchers and physicians hope it will lead to better diagnosis, treatment and even prevention of MRSA infections in rural areas. They plan eventually to expand the study to other Sioux County clinics.