Native America Calling did a program today about MRSA so I figured I’d better finish this draft post. We had several people from Bethel call-in with good tips.

The TIME magazine article says the resistant bacteria are “racing across the US” but we have had a high prevalence here in the region for some time. It would be nice if someone could find the figures for the number of cases per capita per year, the trends over time, and just how sick people get.

Protection against acquiring the resistant infection is similar to that of protecting against H5N1—wash your hands, maintain your health. If we reduce our disease load (morbidity), for example, lessen the number of MRSA cases, then we have a better chance of not getting as sick from any epidemic.

A nasty, drug-resistant staph infection–the kind usually seen in hospitals–is racing across the U.S.
By CHRISTINE GORMAN, Sunday, Jun 18, 2006,

“It has spread rapidly through parts of California, Texas, Illinois and Alaska and is beginning to show up in Pennsylvania and New York.

“This bug has gone from 0 to 60, not in five seconds but in about five years,” says Elizabeth Bancroft, a medical epidemiologist at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. “It spreads by contact, so if it gets into any community that’s fairly close-knit, that’s all it needs to be passed.”

This is not bird flu or SARS or even the “flesh-eating bacteria” of tabloid fame. But it is every bit as dangerous, even if it goes by an uncommonly ungainly name: community-acquired methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)….

The MRSA strains turning up in the community at large are related to but different from the ones found in medical institutions. The hospital variety usually requires intervention with powerful intravenous antibiotics and is pretty hard to catch. By contrast, the new strains of MRSA respond to a broader range of antibiotics but spread much more easily among otherwise healthy folks. The bugs can be picked up on playgrounds, in gyms and in meeting rooms, carried on anything from a shared towel to a poorly laundered necktie….

What makes MRSA germs particularly dangerous is that they excrete a potent toxin that attacks the skin, causing an abscess that’s often mistaken for a spider bite….,8816,1205364,00.html

Native America Calling [link to audio available next week]
Wednesday, July 12 – The Rise in Staph Infections:
Staphylococcus Aureus, more commonly known as a staph infection, is being reported at a higher rate. It is a tiny bacterium that is frequently found on the skin or in the nose of healthy people. It is easily passed from person to person and in most cases it’s not harmful. Yet, some strands normally found in hospital settings are making their way into the general population. It’s causing a rise in staph infections and making health officials take a second look at normal skin lesions. How are staph infections affecting Native communities? What type of prevention methods are available? Dr. Jim Cheek, IHS.

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