Concerns About Drug-Resistant Staph Bacteria


Wednesday, October 17th 2007, 5:32 pm
By: News On 6


A super bug is causing lots of problems. It's called MRSA. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control says this stubborn kind of staph infection might be killing more people than AIDS. The News On 6’s Steve Berg reports the government 17,000 people died from AIDS in 2005. It predicted 18,000 deaths that year were a result of MRSA.

It's not the most pleasant thought, but St. John Doctor Todd Hoffman says it’s a fact of life.

"You could actually do a culture of your skin. You'd actually find many, many kinds of bacteria on your skin. You'd be amazed what we have growing on our skin," said Tulsa Doctor Todd Hoffman.

About 20% of people have staph bacteria. And, about 1% of those cases will mutate into the drug-resistant MRSA variety.

"Still quite rare which is a good thing, but 20 to 25% of us have this bacteria on our body,” said Tulsa Doctor Todd Hoffman.

He says problems generally happen when the skin is cut.

"I would say if you're a healthy individual, I wouldn't worry too much about it, unless you have a wound that tends to extremely painful, becomes red, looks like it's becoming infected,” added Tulsa Doctor Todd Hoffman.

Like with all germs, the best prevention is basic hygiene.

“Good handwashing. If you have a wound, an open wound, keep it clean and dry and keep it covered. Also, don't share personal items like towels. Of course you always hear about toothbrushes and things like that. Those are other ways of spreading it," said Tulsa Doctor Todd Hoffman.

MRSA is resistant to the penicillin family of drugs. There are other classes of drugs that still work, but the worry is that MRSA will eventually thwart those, too.

"We still have medicines that will fight this and kill this bug, but we just can't use the old standbys anymore, and it is a concern,” said Tulsa Doctor Todd Hoffman. “The CDC and the National Institutes of Health are getting involved, so it's potentially a huge problem for us,” added Dr. Hoffman.

Most MRSA cases still happen in or shortly after a hospital visit. One reason is that medical treatments often involve invasive procedures. MRSA is not yet classified as a reportable disease in Oklahoma, so the health department doesn't have data on which hospitals have the most cases. If you have concerns, the CDC recommends asking your doctor about the hospital’s sterilization procedures.

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