By Michael Dorausch, D.C.
The medical community is divided over what approach should be taken in controlling the rapid spread of drug resistant Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria in hospitals and other crisis care facilities. There are professionals with the belief that hospitals should be performing widespread screening on large numbers of patients, isolating those that match positive for methicillin-resistant stapholoccocus aureus (MRSA) infection. Others argue that a widespread screening approach can be both inefficient and costly. In a recent study, such screenings reportedly resulted in expenses hospitals didn’t need, with no decrease in hospital acquired infections occurring.
Drug-resistant bacteria (like MRSA), and the overuse of antibiotics, news is not new. The problem for medical professionals and hospitals is how to best deal with the growing epidemic. We see terms like superbugs, superdrugs, flesh eating bacteria, and MRSA infections, pop up in news articles, but the general public is likely not aware how great the crisis has become. In October of 2007 it was reported by federal officials that MRSA infections are responsible for killing nearly 19,000 people each year — a higher death toll than the AIDS virus. MRSA is also reportedly responsible for more than 94,000 serious infections each year.
MRSA Laws in Development
Both screening laws and reporting laws are being developed in multiple states across the US. The states of New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Tennessee already have MRSA screening laws on the books, and Maryland, New York, California and Washington, D.C. are currently considering legislation.
New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Tennessee already require hospitals to report MRSA infections, and the state of Texas has begun a reporting pilot program. States that have bills pending on reporting include Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, New York, California and Washington.
History of MRSA Related News
A review of this websites news archives resulted in a number of articles related to drug-resistant bacteria and the overuse of antibiotics, dating all the way back to August of 1999. It’s a reminder that the spread of drug-resistant bacteria (and what is being done to deal with it) is not a new phenomenon.
August 22, 1999 — Drug-resistant staph was in the news, with federal health officials worrying about drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus bacteria, responsible for the deaths of four children in the Midwest. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), they were the first related deaths appearing in the US and medical literature. The article mentioned that staph bacteria are the number one cause of hospital acquired infections in the United States, blamed for 13% of the 2 million hospital infections occurring annually.
September 7, 1999 — A month later, antibiotic worries were back in the news, with health officials reporting on an emerging strain of community-acquired MRSA, and the public health challenges associated with the bugs antibiotic resistance. In the article a CDC medical epidemiologist stated “We very strongly believe that these [infections] are a byproduct of excessive and otherwise inappropriate use of antibiotics.”
September 21, 1999 — Two weeks later, the FDA reportedly approved a last resort drug (Synercid) to fight vancomycin-resistant enterococcal infections and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, commonly known as staph infections.
November 22, 1999 — The UK reports launching a plan to beat hospital superbugs. That month British health officials announced plans to set new hygiene standards for hospitals to combat the spread methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus.
January 7, 2000 — More reports from the US on bacteria that are resisting antibiotics. The CDC reported that a 63 year old woman died from an infection of Staphylococcus aureus which was resistant to traditional antibiotics. Researchers reported that the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria was in part caused by health-care providers over prescribing antibiotics, for those that did not need them. According to the report, a staggering 50 million outpatient prescriptions each year are considered unnecessary.
February 29, 2000 — More reports on the spreading of superbugs, this time in Los Angeles. Medical professionals and health-care officials began showing concern for super bacteria that were beginning to emerge in the general population among persons with no previous hospitalizations.
June 13, 2000 — Superbugs are Superkillers articles hit the press with headlines from sources like ABC news, reading “Antibiotics Essentially Useless Against Many Diseases.” The World Health Organization had reported on June 12, “if people do not stop misusing antibiotics, new ‘superbugs’ that resist all drugs could take the world back to the time when minor infections killed.”
April 13, 2001 — The fight continues with Superbugs vs. Superdrugs and a report that a drug known as Zyvox, one of the first of a new class of antibiotics designed to work differently from older drugs, had been beaten by the bugs.
Nature makes bugs, man makes drugs to kill the bugs. Nature makes stronger bugs to resist the drugs that man makes to kill the bugs. Man makes stronger drugs to kill the stronger bugs that resist man’s drugs. Nature makes superbugs to resist the stronger drugs. Man makes superdrugs to kill the superbugs. Nature makes super duper bugs that resist man’s strongest super drugs. Should man make super duper drugs?
April 18, 2002 — News reports document a large-scale US outbreak of antibiotic resistant bacteria spreading amongst kids. Doctors had documented a large-scale US outbreak of antibiotic resistant strep throat, which involved schoolkids. In the past, standard antibiotics reportedly easily killed off group A Streptococcus, the bacteria involved in strep throat and other conditions.
Fast-forward to today’s news and you’ll discover hundreds of articles related to methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA. This Search News MRSA link should provide you with the most up-to-date information appearing on today’s media web sites.
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