4th Superbug Case Confirmed At Wild Animal Park
SAN DIEGO — A fourth employee at the San Diego Wild Animal Park has tested
positive for the staph infection MRSA, county officials said.
The Health and Human Services Agency confirmed the case to NBC 7/39 on
Wednesday. Three other park employees had already been diagnosed with
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is called the “superbug,”
because of its resistance to certain antibiotics.
Two other cases at the park are pending, according to the county.
On Tuesday, officials at the Wild Animal Park said they had euthanized a
baby elephant, which coincidentally had the same superbug infection. The
park said the elephant was not euthanized because it had MRSA, but that it
had failed to grow and thrive since its birth in November. The park did say
the infection played a part in the calf’s failure to put on weight.
Park officials said the first three employees that were infected with the
superbug had all helped feed the baby elephant. County health officials said
the baby elephant developed a lesion on its ear, but that the latest cases
originated from people, not from the pachyderm.
The employees are believed to have been infected in a restricted area of the
park, not accessible to the public.
Staph bacteria, including MRSA, can cause skin infections that may look like
a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful, or have pus or other
drainage, according to Wooten. The more serious infections can lead to
pneumonia, bloodstream infections, or surgical wound infections.
Staph bacteria are commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy
people. Most staph skin infections are minor and can be treated without
antibiotics. The county advises people to practice good hygiene to prevent
MRSA, including washing your hands with soap and water, using alcohol-based
sanitizers, keeping wounds clean and covered, and avoiding contact with
other people’s wounds or bandages.