Bacteria that resists standard antibiotics is also linked to eight other cases A type of bacteria that resists standard antibiotics has been blamed for the death of a woman from a brain infection and the skin lesions and fever suffered by eight others, the disease centre said yesterday. The nine cases involving methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, have all been reported this year to the Centre for Health Protection. The patients, four men and five women, were aged 25 to 42. The woman who died from the brain infection one week after being admitted to Kwong Wah Hospital was 37, said Raymond Yung Wai-hung, head of the infection control branch of the Centre for Health Protection. He did not provide additional details. The eight other cases all involved mild fever and skin lesions. Among those affected was a 29-year-old woman and her 25-year-old brother. The source of the infection was still being investigated. 'Whether it was due to interaction or contact with the environment, whether they have other activities - or they shared a common activity - is difficult to pinpoint,' Dr Yung said. He added the brother and sister played rough-and-tumble sports. 'Individuals who are engaged in rigorous activity, such as ball games that lead to external lesions, have to take good care of themselves.' The centre has been on the alert for the spread of MRSA among families since June last year, and is investigating the contacts made by patients suffering from the bacterial infection. 'Most MRSA is transmitted by very close contact,' Dr Yung said. 'There has been a slight increase in these cases. That is why we are watching this closely.' Last year, there were seven cases involving three males and four females, aged one to 33. All recovered. Dr Yung said the centre could not determine any 'definite risk factor' in the local cases, such as the bacteria being transmitted in prisons or saunas. Its MRSA surveillance network has been expanded to public hospitals so doctors could test patients who come in with abscesses or recurrent lesions. MRSA patients are treated repeatedly and increasingly with third-line - or the newest - antibiotics. Dr Yung also cautioned doctors not to readily use third-line antibiotics since they might foster more drug-resistant MRSA infections. The centre is considering whether to require doctors to report MRSA cases immediately. Meanwhile, a 66-year-old Yuen Long woman died of meningococcal infection, the centre said. She had fever, cough, sore throat, vomiting and diarrhoea on Friday, was admitted to North District Hospital the following day and died that same day. She had no travel history. Eight home contacts, who remain healthy, have been put under medical surveillance. Three local cases of meningococcal infection have been reported this year.