Skip to comments.Drug-resistant germ spreading outside U.S. hospitals (MRSA can become fatal)
Posted on 07/14/2004 3:51:04 PM PDT by Libloather
Drug-resistant germ spreading outside U.S. hospitals
Thursday July 15, 1:46 AM
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A drug-resistant "superbug" found in hospitals has a close cousin that is affecting athletes, prisoners and small children in growing numbers across the United States, disease experts said on Wednesday.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or MRSA can become fatal if not treated with the right antibiotics, said Dr. Daniel Jernigan of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"MRSA is showing up in places it had never been seen before -- as a predominant cause of skin disease among children in some regions of the country, as clusters of abscesses among sports participants, as the most common cause of skin infections among inmates in some jails and among military recruits and rarely, as a severe and sometimes fatal lung or bloodstream infection in previously healthy people," Jernigan told reporters.
Most commonly it takes the form of an abscess or boil, and doctors routinely try to treat it with penicillin-based antibiotics, Jernigan said. These will not work against MRSA.
In hospitals, MRSA resists almost everything but an intravenous antibiotic called vancomycin. But so-called community-acquired MRSA can be treated with a range of antibiotics including doxycycline and cotrimoxazole, sold under the brand name Bactrim.
However, 70 percent of the time doctors use ineffective drugs to treat it, Jernigan said. And the community-acquired strain has some of its own nasty tricks.
"Unlike the hospital strains, the community strains were capable of producing a toxin called Panton-Valentine Leukocidin or PVL," he said.
"PVL is a necrotizing cytotoxin, which means it can cause destruction of cells in the skin leading to pus formation but also can cause a serious and often fatal form of pneumonia."
This may be why MRSA infections cause large abscesses and are often first mistaken as spider bites, he said.
It is also easily passed around. "There is something about the community strain of MRSA that, when given the right circumstances and group characteristics, makes for very efficient transmission of the bacteria," Jernigan said.
He said the CDC is trying to persuade doctors to grow cultures from skin infections before treating patients, so they know which drugs to use. Improper use of antibiotics may be helping drive the evolution of drug-resistant bacteria, health experts say.
Jernigan said studies have shown MRSA makes up a significant number of all diagnosed staph infections, ranging from 9 percent in Maryland, to 20 percent in Georgia and 30 percent in Hawaii.
The numbers are rising, Jernigan said. "We also found that rates of community-associated MRSA infections were disproportionately higher among children," he said.
In 2003, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment investigated an outbreak at a fencing club. Outbreaks were reported among high school and college football players and wrestlers in Pennsylvania, Indiana and California.
And between 1997 and 1999 four small children in North Dakota and Minnesota died from MRSA.
Jernigan said five factors were associated with outbreaks of the infection -- crowding, skin contact, abrasions or cuts in the skin, sharing contaminated equipment or towels and a lack of hygiene.
"From investigations of outbreaks at boot camp and in jails, it is clear that MRSA is being first brought into these settings by individuals that are carrying the bacteria in their nose without having any disease," Jernigan said.
"Once introduced, the bacteria can efficiently spread to others, and is then amplified in that setting."
Got no where to run to, baby, no where to hide...
Somethin' else I have to worry about killin' me!
My doctor warned me this would all happen back in 1992. He was right.
My sister is a sherriff's deputy for Broward county FL, She works in the jail, and she told me they have a problem with MRSA. That's the first I had heard of the ailment, I wonder why you don't see this on the evening news report?
Free market profits are more important.
VRSA (Vancomycin resistant Staph. aureus) is also showing up. 2 new drugs quinupristin and dalfopristin take care of it.
This will be good material for the Art Bell news show.
Go to the Cattle cooperatives or catalog dealers like Jeffers, you can buy gentocin, streptomycin, tetracyclines, penicillins, and just about any antibiotic the veterinary community uses in animals. When lay people use the antibiotics, they use them in inappropriate dosages and intervals and actually raise and select for antibiotic resistant organisms.
The low level feeding of antibiotics fed to food animals also contributes to the selection of antibiotic resistant strains and lethal variants to be selected. The large agri-conglomerates have the lobby and will not be controlled till more intelligent antibiotic use is mandated after the genie has been vomited from the bottle.
One of my granddaughter's just had this. The doctor's think she was bit by a mosquito. Whatever bit her left a small welp with a pus-head. It looked like a fireant bite. The break in the skin allegedly caused the staph infection. Within two hours the area surrounding the small bite began to turn red and swell. The next day she began running a very low fever and was limping. By day three she was running a fever between 104-105 F and could not walk on that leg. She was hospitalized for 6 days. She was on 2 antibiotics, via IV. One every 6 hours and the other every 8 hours. There were 5 other children with the same thing when she checked in. When she left, another child had been admitted. The resident doctor told me that in the 3 weeks she had been at the hospital she had seen at least 35 cases of this. My granddaughter had gotten out of the swimming pool at my house, walked a few feet to get her towel, and went inside. The biten area immediately hurt. (There were a total of 6 grandchildren swimming.) Since then I have talked to two colleagues with children who have had similar experiences. One of those children has been hospitalized twice in the last 6 months. This stuff is nasty and wierd.
and to make matters worse, the germ was seen driving an SUV.
Another cause for the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria is the indiscriminate prescribing of antibiotics to patients who cannot benefit from them. Antibiotics do not help with viral infections.
I saw a film (in microbiology class) in 1986 about a super Staph that was resistant to just about every antibiotic available at the time. The only drug effective against it was a new antibiotic that cost $60/dose. Every time we come up with new antibiotics, the bacteria come up with resistance. They pass around the resistance in genetic elements called plasmids; they can even pass plasmids to other species of bacteria. This is a war we (probably) cannot win.
Staph is a common bacteria that everyone has on their skin, in their nasal passages etc.
all bacteria exchange genes with each other when they meet, as in your body, so its a simple thing for bacteria to exchange vanco resistance genes and spread thru the community at large. Doctors contribute to the problem by prescribing unnecessary antibiotics for colds and flu, and by prescribing powerful antibiotics when something tamer would do.
more likely from the unrelenting demand for antibiotics from patients that just have to have a drug RX in hand to make them feel better...
that, and the disreguard people in general have in taking and finishing their entire prescription of antibiotics when prescribed.......
many people just stop taking them when they feel better, which is misguided...
its when there is an OPPORTUNITY for the germ to settle in that it causes infection...
That arguement isn't limited to lay people. It extends to licensed pros too. It is vets that handle and advise farmers on feed additives. You don't need much skill to read and understand the drugs applicability. Just as in the med field, all that taking away the freedom to buy and use these drugs will do is fatten the bank accounts of vets.
In general and keeping it simple...Normally pathogenic strains are a minority population. They can't compete with the nonpathogenic strains that emit toxins to restrict their activity. Amongst the normally present pathogens, there is another minority(for similar reasons), that has drug resistant capacity. That last group is the one that ends up predominant if the time of med application is cut short.
In these cases here folks are being exposed to large populations of the normal minority bugs. It's the exposure to large numbers, that are overwhelming to normal conditions that allows their fast takeover and spread. Pathogenic staph normally inhabits noses and infected sores, warm potato salad and the like also(from hands and noses). If those noses and sores are really laiden with staph, it spreads to other surfaces and people by sheer numbers. If it's predominantly the drug resistant bug, it spreads even faster.