A strain of MRSA called Panton-Valentine Leukocidin (PVL) MRSA claimed two lives at University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke-on-Trent.
The first infected was a healthcare worker and the second one was a patient who was being treated on the ward where the healthcare worker had worked.

There were also nine other people who contracted the bacteria but only one of them was a patient.

This MRSA strain is found to attack leukocytes i.e white blood cells that are responsible for fighting infections. When the bacteria attack these cells, they are unable to fight back.

It is not yet known if the infections were contracted in the hospital or in the community which it serves since hospital-associated strains of MRSA usually affect elderly patients but this PVL strain affected young and healthy people.

This particular strain of PVL MRSA had been found before in England and Wales but it had never emerged in hospitals, only in communities.
The cases reported in 2005 were all skin and soft-tissue infections. Although PVL-producing strains of MRSA usually cause skin infections like abscesses or boils, they could also cause more severe infections and lead to septic arthritis, blood poisoning or a form of pneumonia.

Health Protection Agency is helping the hospital deal with the outbreak, is advising them on the control measures, and will continue to monitor MRSA infection nationally.