Web Zap*Germs Archive

May 23, 2005

British Marine Killed by MRSA with Panton-Valentine Leukocidin Toxin

An 18-year-old, "superfit" Royal Marine died of pneumonia just days after scratching his leg during training last year. The pneumonia was traced to a strain of methicillin-resistant staph bacteria (MRSA) that produced a toxin that killed Richard Campbell-Smith's white blood cells. That toxin, Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL), greatly increased the virulence of the MRSA, leading to his rapid death.

MRSA with PVL is extremely rare -- besides Campbell-Smith, only one other Briton is known to have died from it. However, recent medical literature has discussed other outbreaks of MRSA carrying the PVL gene (example).

The Times Online accompanied the article on Campbell-Smith's death with an informative sidebar on PVL.
[Hat tip: Drudge Report]

Update 24 May 2005: The BBC website has chimed in with additional detail, a photo of Campbell-Smith, and PVL FAQs.


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