Skip to comments.New Skin Infection Concerns Doctors, Activists
Posted on 02/26/2003 5:04:36 AM PST by kattracks
(CNSNews.com) - Public health officials in California are alerting male homosexuals to the dangers of a new skin infection that is communicable during sex, but some activists charge they're not doing enough to prevent its spread.
The San Francisco Health Department has sent out informational bulletins on methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), or "staph," to chiropractors, masseurs and gymnasium and sex-club operators, alerting them to increases of the infection. Officials also have held informational forums at homosexual community centers.
More recently, Los Angeles health officials also have identified an increase in MRSA among male homosexuals.
Officials, however, can't provide numbers of staph infections because MRSA is not a reportable disease in California.
"We've heard anecdotally that there are increases, but we haven't been able to substantiate it," said Colleen Johnson, a San Francisco Health Department spokeswoman. "We will be creating a surveillance system in the next couple of months, but it will take a while in order to have enough data for it to be accurate."
The Health Department is working with the University of California, local health authorities and doctors to prevent the infections from spreading, she said.
Michael Petrelis, a longtime AIDS activist, said the Health Department in San Francisco is failing to control staph infections as it has failed to control other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infections.
"We've had a doubling of syphilis cases; gonorrhea is up, and now, we have a new drug-resistant staph infection. To me, it says the Health Department in 'San Frisco' is a failure," Petrelis said.
Drug-resistant staph is not new, but this strain is more contagious because it produces a toxin that is passed through the skin, experts said.
"What's new is that some of these are being spread by skin-to-skin infections, and the skin-to-skin contact seems to be of a sexual nature," said Dr. John Diggs, a medical consultant to the Family Research Council.
"The difference is that this is treatable and that it can be spread through more casual contact. It doesn't have to be contact of a sexual nature," he added.
However, the disease could spread rapidly among homosexual men, who have high rates of sexual promiscuity, Diggs said.
Doctors are not accustomed to seeing this type of infection in their offices, Diggs said. It's the kind of infection they expect to see in patients who might be hospitalized or who are otherwise debilitated with diabetes or chemotherapy, he said.
Since early last summer, for example, the San Francisco Health Department has identified an increasing number of patients with soft tissue infections among city jail inmates, the department reported.
The infections can cause pneumonia and bladder, skin and blood infections. In some cases, the disease can be fatal, doctors report.
But in order to control an epidemic, officials need to have some idea what the incidence is, "and they're not doing anything to find out what the incidence is," Diggs said.
"The problem from the beginning is that most of these sexually transmitted diseases have been treated as political issues rather than public health issues," he said.
"The approach they're taking is you treat people, and if they don't get better, then you test them for MRSA," he said.
"There could be people you treat who do get better who still have MRSA. To have MRSA doesn't mean it's not treatable. What it means is it's not treatable by the common methicillin-type antibiotics," he said.
While no official figures are available on the number of staph infections, one San Francisco doctor estimated the city's cases number between 200 and 300.
E-mail a news tip to Lawrence Morahan.
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To me, it says people should take some precautions before they fall into bed (or wherever) with someone.
Uh oh, he's gonna be in BIG trouble for speaking this truth.
How about KEEPING YOUR PANTS ON? Then you won't have to PUT THE BLAME ON SOMEONE ELSE! For ONCE take responsibility for YOUR ACTIONS!
Right. The promiscuous sex has nothing to do with spreading the infections...it's all governments fault.
Remember, to Dims, AIDS is caused by lack of funding.
My wife is a Cath-lab nurse, and she says that almost 10-20% of infections they are seeing nowadays are drug-resistant.
Someone needs to find the new "Penicillin" and soon. (Speaking of which, just how did they think "Hmm let me scrap this fuzzy stuff off of this rotten food and see if it cures diseases).
The biggest culprit of this drug-resistant strain are the doctors who prescribe antobiotics at the drop of a hat. Then the patients only take them until they feel better -- if the bottle says "Take until gone" DO IT! By only partially treating the infection you are leaving organisms alive that can now build a resistance to the antibiotic.
That was the turning point for me. I became a full fledged right-winger when the homosexuals blamed Reagan for AIDS in the '80s. And the liberal media never rebuked them.
Yeah, Its the city's fault.
I guess some San Francisco denizens will never learn that you shouldn't insert thy sword in thy staph.
Rebuke 'em? Like a skin rash, the media to this day, still spreads that old shibboleth.