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Old 10-17-2007, 05:19 PM   #1
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Germ Deadlier Than AIDS?

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More than 90,000 Americans get potentially deadly infections each year from a drug-resistant staph "superbug," the government reported in its first overall estimate of invasive disease caused by the germ.

Deaths tied to these infections may exceed those caused by AIDS, said one public health expert commenting on the new study. Tuesdays report shows just how far one form of the staph germ has spread beyond its traditional hospital setting.

The overall incidence rate was about 32 invasive infections per 100,000 people. That's an "astounding" figure, said an editorial in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the study.

Most drug-resistant staph cases are mild skin infections. But this study focused on invasive infections — those that enter the bloodstream or destroy flesh and can turn deadly.

Researchers found that only about one-quarter involved hospitalized patients. However, more than half were in the health care system — people who had recently had surgery or were on kidney dialysis, for example. Open wounds and exposure to medical equipment are major ways the bug spreads.

In recent years, the resistant germ has become more common in hospitals and it has been spreading through prisons, gyms and locker rooms, and in poor urban neighborhoods.

The new study offers the broadest look yet at the pervasiveness of the most severe infections caused by the bug, called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. These bacteria can be carried by healthy people, living on their skin or in their noses.

An invasive form of the disease is being blamed for the death Monday of a 17-year-old Virginia high school senior. Doctors said the germ had spread to his kidneys, liver, lungs and muscles around his heart.

The researchers' estimates are extrapolated from 2005 surveillance data from nine mostly urban regions considered representative of the country. There were 5,287 invasive infections reported that year in people living in those regions, which would translate to an estimated 94,360 cases nationally, the researchers said.

Most cases were life-threatening bloodstream infections. However, about 10 percent involved so-called flesh-eating disease, according to the study led by researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There were 988 reported deaths among infected people in the study, for a rate of 6.3 per 100,000. That would translate to 18,650 deaths annually, although the researchers don't know if MRSA was the cause in all cases.

If these deaths all were related to staph infections, the total would exceed other better-known causes of death including AIDS — which killed an estimated 17,011 Americans in 2005 — said Dr. Elizabeth Bancroft of the Los Angeles County Health Department, the editorial author.

The results underscore the need for better prevention measures. That includes curbing the overuse of antibiotics and improving hand-washing and other hygiene procedures among hospital workers, said the CDC's Dr. Scott Fridkin, a study co-author.

Some hospitals have drastically cut infections by first isolating new patients until they are screened for MRSA.

The bacteria don't respond to penicillin-related antibiotics once commonly used to treat them, partly because of overuse. They can be treated with other drugs but health officials worry that their overuse could cause the germ to become resistant to those, too.

A survey earlier this year suggested that MRSA infections, including noninvasive mild forms, affect 46 out of every 1,000 U.S. hospital and nursing home patients — or as many as 5 percent. These patients are vulnerable because of open wounds and invasive medical equipment that can help the germ spread.

Dr. Buddy Creech, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, said the JAMA study emphasizes the broad scope of the drug-resistant staph "epidemic," and highlights the need for a vaccine, which he called "the holy grail of staphylococcal research."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071017/...aph_infections

What do you think? Think this is all hype, or the real deal?
Personally, I'm hoping this is all hype because I know people who have/are going for surgery, and I don't want to think they are capable of picking up this disease.
And I think there needs to be more research into this. I also feel saying this MRSA could be worse than AIDS is a bit of a stretch.
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Old 10-17-2007, 05:31 PM   #2
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I saw this. Only time will tell, but it still scares the crap out of me.

On the other hand, they thought he Avian bird flu was going to kill us all, too. I'm not trying to take this lightly, I'm just saying . . .
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Old 10-17-2007, 05:32 PM   #3
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It's definitely not hype. MRSA is the real deal. Hospitals are notorious breeding grounds for organisms like this, but they're spreading out beyond the hospital setting. It's somwhat scary when you learn about all the bugs you can pick up by spending time in the hospital.

There are only a few drugs that are capable of killing this bacteria, but there are also strains that are resistant to these drugs - which are considered the last line of defense. These drugs are comparable to the atomic bomb of antibiotics.

More research definitely needs to be done in several areas. We haven't not had many new antibiotics hit the market in years and many of the current ones are being rendered useless. We also need to find out why some people can carry around Staph and never get ill, while others become severely ill and die from it. A lecturer today, half jokingly and half serious said that if you find out the reason for this then you'll get the next Nobel prize in medicine.

I'm not going to question the ID doc's thoughts here, but I'd love to how he plans on developing a vaccine on something that replicates every 20 minutes and can alter it's genetic properties everytime it does replicate.
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Old 10-17-2007, 05:39 PM   #4
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Well it's happening, I don't know how much of an epidemic it is but it's happening.

I know someone suffering from it right now. Went in for routine oral sugery in Jan and they still haven't been able to find anything to truly cure it.
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Old 10-17-2007, 06:52 PM   #5
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Eeek! I was sick for a week but I'm glad I didn't go in. It seems people and Dr's too are so antibiotic-happy these days. I'll hear about someone going in for flu or a sinus infection and getting antibiotics every time, maybe once or twice a year for years in a row. I've taken antibiotics (Cipro and then Keflex) twice in the past 3 years and even that makes me quite uncomfortable, but it was necessary (once was for something I got in Africa, lost 12 lbs in 2 weeks and was NOT getting better, the other time was for periorbital cellulitis which can spread and make you go septic if it's not stopped). I know people who will take antibiotics more often than just taking a cold medicine!
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Old 10-17-2007, 08:09 PM   #6
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My grandmother died following having contracted MRSA (she was in the hospital after a hip fracture). It is certainly a huge matter of concern in that setting.
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Old 10-18-2007, 02:23 AM   #7
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This discussion came up tonight at the bar where I play on Wed(along with Colbert running for pres), and another girl told me her mother who was only 62 died of this 6 months ago...

I've been scared for this person I know, but now I'm scared shitless.
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Old 10-22-2007, 04:46 PM   #8
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It's sort of comical the way Staph has become such a huge deal in the media in the past week. MRSA and other resistant strains of bacteria have been known for at least a decade but one JAMA article and BOOM - it's all over the place.

Schools are even closing down so they can "decontaminate" the building, but apparently school officials don't realize the bacteria resides on people! As soon as the people come back into the building, so does the bacteria. I guess you have to show that you're doing something to appease people.
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Old 10-22-2007, 07:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by randhail
It's sort of comical the way Staph has become such a huge deal in the media in the past week. MRSA and other resistant strains of bacteria have been known for at least a decade but one JAMA article and BOOM - it's all over the place.

My mom was just saying the same thing. My grandma has had MRSA twice before, and she's very, very frail (she always has open sores, right now both of her legs from her knees down are open sores).
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Old 10-22-2007, 07:46 PM   #10
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We just received notices from school telling us about how to handle it with children and a few websites for information. I would say its very serious.
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Old 10-22-2007, 07:49 PM   #11
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A student in one of our local middle schools had it, however they sort of downplayed its seriousness by saying, "He's been healed and already back in school."
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Old 10-24-2007, 03:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by randhail
It's sort of comical the way Staph has become such a huge deal in the media in the past week. MRSA and other resistant strains of bacteria have been known for at least a decade but one JAMA article and BOOM - it's all over the place.
Yes, the dreaded "Golden Staph" has been a problem in hospitals here in Australia for at LEAST 20 years.

I work in ICU, so obviously our patients are critically ill and we are extremely conscious of infection control, but still MRSA manages to infect patients no matter how careful we are.

Having said that, there is NO need to panic, unless you have a large gaping surgical incision, or multiple comorbidities or are immunocomprimised, it is HIGHLY unlikely that you will die from MRSA. I am probably covered in the stuff!

Yes, doctors have probably caused the bug in the first place with over-use of antibiotics, but if you're going into hospital and want to protect yourself, make sure that your health care provider is immaculate with their infection control - handwashing, use of alcohol gels, wearing gloves etc. etc. The best form of protection from MRSA (and all other hospital accquired infections) is prevention!!
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Old 10-25-2007, 09:31 AM   #13
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Just got this in our employee daily listserv...

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------------------------------

Date: Wed, 24 Oct 2007 12:41:20 -0400

Subject: MRSA Myth Busters

Fact or Myth?

1) A school must be shut down to be cleaned and disinfected if a student has
MRSA. MYTH
MRSA is not spread through the air. It's spread through contact so anything
the infected individual contacted needs to be disinfected but not the whole
school. Widespread building disinfection may give people a false sense of
security. Diligence in personal hygiene is really the best defense.

2) MRSA infections are new and rare. MYTH
Staph bacteria are one of the most common causes of skin infection in the
United States and are a common cause of pneumonia, surgical wound infections,
and bloodstream infections. MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
is a form of Staph that is resistant to an antibiotic called methicillin, along
with other commonly used antibiotics. The majority of MRSA infections occur in
hospitals and other healthcare settings. Cases of MRSA in other settings is
becoming more common and has recently been reported in the news.

3) MRSA is not treatable. MYTH
Almost all MRSA skin infections can be effectively treated by draining the
abscess (by a health care professional) and prescribing appropriate
antibiotics. More serious infections, such as pneumonia, bloodstream
infections, or bone infections, are very rare in healthy people who get MRSA
skin infections. Report suspicious wounds to your health care provider.

4) You can get MRSA by sitting next to someone who has MRSA and breathing the
same air. MYTH
MRSA is usually transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact or contact with
shared items or surfaces that have come into contact with someone else's
infection (e.g., towels, used bandages).

5) MRSA bacteria on surfaces and hands are resistant to normal hand washing
and surface disinfection methods. MYTH
Cleaning surfaces with detergent-based cleaners or Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants is effective at removing MRSA from the
environment. Calvin College regularly uses such a product: Green Solutions High
Dilution Disinfectant 256. Washing hands with warm water and soap or using
alcohol-based hand sanitizers like the Purell foam that Calvin provides is
effective.

How do I protect myself from getting MRSA?
Practice good hand hygiene (e.g., keeping your hands clean by washing with
soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and showering
immediately after participating in exercise).
Cover skin trauma such as abrasions or cuts with a clean dry bandage until
healed.
Avoid sharing personal items (e.g., towels, razors) that come into contact
with your bare skin; and using a barrier (e.g., clothing or a towel) between
your skin and shared equipment such as weight-training benches.
Always disinfect athletic equipment after each use and before it comes in
contact with other people's skin.

For more information go to:
http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/mrsa.pdf


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Old 10-26-2007, 09:49 PM   #14
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Staff infections are really scary. My mom has it, it's the skin infection version so she's currently taking antibiotics. She works as a nurse at a hospital, and contracted it there.

I hadn't heard about anybody dying from it before, though.
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