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MRSA aka The Super Bug: The Facts and the Fears.

Posted by Catherine Morgan on November 1, 2007

The Super Bug MRSA: Should You Panic? — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last ten days, you have more than likely heard about MRSA, a drug resistant form of Staph Infection (see one of the many news reports here).

This is by no means a new problem. What is new though, is that we are hearing about it affecting and sometimes killing children that are picking up this infection at their schools. Very scary. We’ve been hearing about sick kids, and schools closing for top to bottom hazmat style cleanings.

But before you panic…The best medicine is knowledge. Knowing the signs and symptoms of what to look for is the most important aspect of this story. Panicking is an option, but not a productive one. And like we’ve talked about before, MRSA is another one of those illnesses that may be caused by the overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial cleaners.

From around the blogosphere…

At Covering Florida, Kay addresses the study showing that MRSA deaths are becoming higher than those from AIDS.

Over at Bama Moms, they are becoming “paranoid”.

Kim talked to her daughter.

Christina is just glad we are finally getting it through our thick sculls.

Steph talks about her personal experience with MRSA.

Bethany wants to help you prevent MRSA.

Liz thinks it’s madness.

The temptation to blanket our families with antibacterial protection has been fueled by scary news reports about a deadly bacteria called CA-MRSA, which stands for community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Two otherwise healthy children — a seventh grader in Brooklyn and a high school football player in Virginia — died in recent weeks from MRSA infections.

The general advice for avoiding infection is basic hygiene — washing hands or using alcohol-based sanitizers, keeping scrapes covered until healed and refraining from sharing personal items like towels and cosmetics.

But some recent laboratory studies suggest that antibacterial products containing triclosan may not be the best way to stay clean. Instead of wiping out bacteria randomly, the way regular soap or alcohol-based products do, triclosan may inhibit the growth of bacteria in a way that leaves a larger proportion of resistant bacteria behind, according to lab studies at Tufts and Colorado State Universities, among others. — read full article from the New York Times

Even though MRSA is serious, there is no reason to panic. However, if you are watching the news, you may be under the impression that now is the time to panic. But don’t. Some bloggers are attempting to put this media frenzy into perspective…

I answered that I like to put the scare into perspective. Here’s how I view it.

  • Fall 2007 MRSA
  • Fall 2006 Bird Flu
  • Fall 2005 Influenza, with no available vaccine
  • Fall 2004 SARS
  • Fall 2003 Mad Cow
  • Fall 2002 Anthrax

So in other words, the media for some reason that I just can’t seem to understand, likes to scare us, in a public service sort of way. — read full post

One of the most factual articles I have found on this “super bug” is here

Now let’s examine some of the media distortion. I did a Google News search for MRSA and had difficulty finding articles that provided appropriate perspective. This Q and A piece defines MRSA as “a type of staph bacterium that is resistant to common antibiotics such as penicillin.” Not quite. Penicillin sensitivity is rare even among non-MRSA isolates.

Many articles talked about schools closing for a good scrubbing down following the reports of MRSA infections in Aston Bonds and other students. However, given the importance of person to person spread of MRSA it’s unlikely that environmental sanitation measures would have much impact. This article implies that poor hospital cleaning was responsible for MRSA sepsis and death in a newborn. But almost a year ago I cited a lack of evidence of correlation between hospital cleanliness and MRSA bacteremia. In hospitals hand washing and proper use of isolation procedures, rather than environmental cleanliness, will make the most impact. Equally important are sanitation measures for infected patients to follow after hospital discharge, which I provided here.

In conclusion…I suggestion that we take this MRSA “super bug” seriously, but without panic. Lean what to look for, so if someone in our family does come down with this, we will be able to recognize it and get treatment quickly. Take simple precautions…like washing your hands and keeping wounds covered. Most importantly, don’t let the media take you down the rabbit-hole of fear…and I admit, as a mom that is a hard thing to do…but necessary.

So, what do you think about all this “super bug” talk? Are you super scared? Do you think the media is making more of this than they should be? What precautions will you and your family be taking (if any), when it comes to MRSA?

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
also at CatherineBlogs.com and The Political Voices of Women

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5 Responses to “MRSA aka The Super Bug: The Facts and the Fears.”

  1. snoskred said

    Hey, just dropping by from the NaBloPoMo blogroll.

    The media absolutely try to scare everyone with things like this. There is a book called “The Gift Of Fear” by Gavin De Becker and reading that changed how I view the media and also a lot of things about my own life – it’s worth a read. 😉

    As if posting 30 posts a month wasn’t enough, I’m trying to comment on as many blogs as I can as well. We have a group on NaBloPoMo as well.

    NaBloPoMo Commenting Challenge Group

    Cheers!
    Snoskred
    http://www.snoskred.org

  2. Hi “Snoskred”

    Thanks for the comment, I’ll have to check out that book.

    As far as posting 30 posts this month…I know what you mean. I have six blogs, plus I am a contributing editor for BlogHer Health and wellness (two posts a week). I’m not going to be able to post every day on all of my blogs…but I am committing to do so on at least CatherineBlogs.com

    I will try to check out your blog and group. Thanks for stopping by.

    Catherine

  3. Thanks boys0ad82650fb6058b2df910853e7596351

  4. There is new technology which cleans MRSA and other virus, bacteria and fungi from hard surfaces in your homes, offices and work places. Good Hygine and clean envirnoment are the best two solutions to help prevent infection. Check out more information at http://www.airzone2.blogspot.com or http://www.airzonetoo.blogspot.com a part of the Healthier Living blogs.

  5. MRSA said

    Preparing for MRSA is important, this superbug is very dangerous.

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