The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health today is investigating reports of multiple cases of antibiotic-resistant infections in Venice. "Public Health is aware and is investigating to determine what actions may be needed," according to a department statement.
The action comes as a community group known as the Venice Stakeholders Association (VSA), long critical of the area's homeless situation, announced that six cases of "apparent MRSA" (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) have been reported.
The group says the San Francisco–based nonprofit Lava Mae, which provides mobile shower services to the homeless, reported the possible cases at its mobile setup at Third and Rose avenues in Venice. A spokeswoman for Lava Mae said its administrative offices have been closed for the holidays and that this was the first she'd heard of the reports but that she'd look into it.
But Jasmin Mouflard, Lava Mae’s Los Angeles director, is quoted by VSA as saying, "We saw six individuals who were taking drugs to treat MRSA and another three people who have the open sores that suggest they also are infected with the staphylococcus bacteria."
"While we are not health care professionals, we concluded that at least the six who have been prescribed with drugs to treat the bacteria have MRSA," she said.
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VSA reports that Lava Mae sprays its showers with the disinfectant Oxivir 516, which can kill MRSA. The neighborhood group's outspoken president, Mark Ryavec, called on county health officials to move fast to "contain and eradicate the bacteria."
Venice resident Rick Swinger, who lives near Third and Rose, said in a statement that the infections "could represent a health risk for residents, who can pick it up from their shoes or from their dogs by walking in the area."
According to the Mayo Clinic, MRSA can affect "people who live in crowded conditions." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control states that it can lead to "skin infections and sepsis," as well as to pneumonia and bloodstream infections.