MRSA: Unstoppable?

Research suggests that MRSA infection rates have soared 17-fold since 1995

Research suggests that MRSA infection rates have soared 17-fold since 1995

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a type of bacteria responsible for many difficult-to-treat infections. In fact, MRSA is a type of Staphylococcus aureas bacteria that has developed a resistance to many types of antibiotics, namely penicillin. MRSA infections are a major problem in hospital settings, as patients suffering from open wounds and weakened immune systems are more likely to get infected. These infections cost the U.S healthcare system 3.2 to 4.2 billion dollars every year[i] and kill more than 18 000 people.Consequently, MRSA is a rising public health concern.[ii] Infection rates in Canada have spiked since 1995. According to researchers studying the development of these bacteria in hospitals, the rates of infection have soared 17 fold since that time. [iii] This study was also amongst the first to link clinical and epidemiological data to prove the categories of persons most at risk, namely hospital patients. [iv]Amongst those hospital patients, those at the greatest risk are seniors with underlying medical conditions, surgical patients, and diabetics requiring dialysis. However, MRSA is more than just a bacteria found in hospitals, as it is becoming increasingly common in communities. According to a CDC report published in 2007, MRSA kills more people every year in the US than AIDS. The rate is only increasing, and there are very few effective antibiotics left to treat it.

It’s easy to disregard MRSA as it seems so abstract. You hear “non treatable” and think of a far away exotic disease like Ebola. How wrong you would be. MRSA is a very real and present danger. Take the case of Andrea, a 23 year old who was put in isolation for seven days and six nights because she was diagnosed with MRSA. Her first symptoms were abscesses around her belly button and groin area, and she went to the hospital twice before they were able to figure out what she had. She spent useless money on antibiotics that she could not afford, and lost several paychecks worth of time.[v] If that doesn’t make the risks clear enough, take the case of Caleb, a seven year old from Texas. Caleb contracted MRSA through his eczema while he was being treated in the hospital. He has had several outbreaks of MRSA, leaving his parents without money, or options. Furthermore, he has a number of medical conditions that weaken his immune system, making him all the more vulnerable to virulent attacks. In order to avoid infection, he has to stay at home, in isolation, with no friends and no opportunity for school. It is likely he will die if these infections keep recurring.[vi]

It is clear that something needs to be done. MRSA’s biggest strength is the lack of awareness surrounding the disease. Infection prevention techniques and implementation of hospital protocols need to be promoted so as to inform the population of the risks. Don’t wait for your turn, get informed now.

[i] Infection Control Today. “New Research Estimates MRSA Infections cost U.S. Hospitals 3.2 Billion to 4. 2 Billion Annually”. 2005.

Available at: http://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/news/2005/05/new-research-estimates-mrsa-infections-cost-u-s-h.aspx

[ii] CBC News. “Superbug MRSA on rise in Canada”. March 10 2010.

Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2010/03/10/mrsa-superbug-hospitals-canada.html

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Ibid.

[v] MRSA Survivors Network. http://www.mrsasurvivors.org/survivors-stories

[vi] Ibid.

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One Response to “MRSA: Unstoppable?”

  1. Nicole Gould says:

    Very nice job! We need to get this information out and you put it a very good way!

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