From this week's LEO:
Because you don’t know where this paper’s been
Unlike most of the seemingly terrifying stories TV news anchors shout, MRSA is a freak-out you might want to have. MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It’s a type of staph infection that is resistant to common antibiotics, including methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin. After playing in smaller venues such as hospitals and nursing homes for the past decade, MRSA is now embarking on a stadium tour and has been spotted in all corners of the United States, including Louisville.
The bacteria are spread by casual contact and are found in about one-third of the population. You won’t get sick unless the germ enters your body through a cut or other wound. If not treated quickly, MRSA can turn your sore into an abscess and your abscess into something you might parlay into an acting gig in the next “Shaun of the Dead” movie. In extreme cases, the infection spreads to the lungs, bones or bloodstream, where it killed nearly 19,000 people in 2005. Young people, old people and those with weakened immune systems are the most vulnerable.
How did we get into this mess? The wanton overuse of antibiotics, both in prescription drugs and in cattle, chicken and pig factory farming. These antibiotics find their way into our water supply and encourage bacteria to mutate in their never-ending quest to return to their pre-Louis Pasteur glory days.How do we get out of this mess? Well, we could stop overusing antibiotics, but this is America, so we’ll come up with stronger antibiotics. But oh-oh, they’re expensive to develop and are prescribed only in extreme cases, so drug companies aren’t too keen on the work (no, really).
Meantime? Keep an eye on your sores and wash your hands like David Sedaris after a dumpster dive. LEO readers are nothing if not hygienic, but with microbes gone wild, you can never be too OCD. For more info, see www.mayoclinic.com.