In an attempt to find new ways to prevent cases of MRSA, researchers have been working to develop a new vaccine. Several pharmaceutical companies have attempted to create vaccines for MRSA in the past, but such endeavors have not been successful. The main reason for this is that it is not known what makes individuals immune to the disease. Current research into a MRSA vaccine is in the very early stages, and even if a successful vaccine was developed, it would take years to receive approval.
We often blog about the importance of preventing surgical site infections. An effective vaccine to combat MRSA would be a major milestone in the fight against antibiotic resistance. This is because powerful antibiotics are used to treat active MRSA infections, and each time such therapies are used, the more likely it becomes for the bacteria to develop resistance. Thus, the most optimal treatment would be to prevent MRSA before it occurs. If a successful vaccine was to be developed, it would likely be given prior to surgical procedures, and in those with compromised immune systems. But, why wait years for a MRSA vaccine to be developed when there are simple solutions available right now?
Through increased awareness and prevention efforts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that cases of healthcare-associated MRSA infections were reduced by about 20% from 2008 to 2010. Community-acquired cases however, have become increasingly problematic in the past decade. Such cases initially appear as skin infections, but can cause major complications if the pathogen enters the bloodstream through an open wound. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the number of MRSA cases worldwide have increased in the past decade. Killing more than 11,400 individuals annually in the United States, MRSA claims more lives than melanoma. This serious skin cancer kills approximately 9,200 individuals each year.
Several different pharmaceutical companies are currently working on vaccines, each taking a different approach to this common problem. One vaccine aims to outsmart the bacteria rather than aiming to kill it entirely. This approach reduces the likelihood of antibiotic resistance because its goal is to take away the bacteria’s ability to create poisonous toxins. Similar to war, this solution is not aimed at killing the entire population of bacteria, but rather seeking to disarm the weapons that cause destruction.
While research into developing a successful MRSA vaccine is a step in the right direction, it could take years before it actually becomes a reality. It is therefore imperative to look into other solutions, such as Photodisinfection. It is our responsibility to do whatever we can to prevent the spread of MRSA. This is true for all cases of MRSA, whether healthcare or community-acquired. As we have learned from melanoma, awareness and preventative measures save lives. In the fight against microscopic pathogens, we need to do whatever we can to combat the common enemy.