There is concerning reports tonight out of a major medical journal that doctors are seeing more and more cases of infections caused by a bacteria resistant to most antibiotics.


Staphylococcus aureus--staph for short--is the bacteria that causes skin infections, and more invasive infections in hospitalized patients.  In these types of cases, death rates can soar to 25% in spite of effective antibiotics.


But most of these antibiotics don’t work against a highly resistant type of staph called MRSA (Mersa)--Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus.  This highly antibiotic resistant bug has been around for 40 years, and has affected for the most part very sick individuals who are hospitalized, such as those with iv lines that pierce the skin, or urinary catheters.

Usually it affects intensive care unit patients.


But now, the latest research in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that MRSA infections are starting to hit the community--.people out and about, not in the hospital, and who are otherwise healthy.


Dr. Philip Tierno, an infectious disease expert at NYU Medical Center, says, “We saw this coming. Community staph aureus ordinarily was susceptible to antibiotics. This new strain of community acquired MRSA, caMRSA, is difficult to treat and possesses many enzymes which make it very virulent very invasive on top of all of that it can produce toxins or poisons that can kill a person.”


Many of the infections are among children under the age of two, and are also seen in athletes who may share equipment, locker room space or towels.  “Don’t share anything with each other in the sporting equipment bring your own towel your won helmet,” says Dr. Tierno.


They are so serious, that almost a quarter of the infections, of which most are skin infections, require hospitalization.  Fortunately, there are some antibiotics which will work, including this one, vancomycin, which must be given intravenously.


But Dr. Tierno says, we can prevent this bacteria from getting to us with some simple approaches.  “When you get a cut or abrasion, wash it out and use an antiseptic and a wound dressing.  Don’t be macho and say I don’t need to cover this wound with a band aid it’s only a scratch well a scratch can potentially kill you if it becomes infected with this organism,” Tierno states.


And he says, frequent hand washing can go a long way. “This is the time to use antibacterial soaps if there were ever a time,” implores Dr. Tierno. 


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