Blogging MRSA Disease

This resistant bacterium produces 18,650 deaths annually.

By Christine Contillo, RN, BSN
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When I received a complaint last year about a resident at a local nursing home who had contracted clostridium difficile, I started to investigate. To my surprise, I discovered that my state health department was not keeping records on the number of c.diff cases contracted. An accurate account of the number of cases of community acquired MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, within the state depended on the cooperation of physician and laboratory reporting. Of course, the media attention surrounding the recent deaths of seemingly healthy youngsters is changing that fast as legislators demand to know where the disease is found.

Until not too long ago it was thought that this superbug MRSA was generally acquired in the hospital or from a hospital worker. However, recent statistics show that certain antibiotic resistant strains are fast becoming more prevalent in the community. Athletes, people in the military, and juveniles in residential facilities are at more risk than the general population for skin to skin transmission, but how much of a problem this is remains unclear. Signs point to the fact that it’s growing fast—a study of children in south Texas showed that Community Acquired (CA) cases of MRSA had increased more than 14 times in only two years. Another study showed the average age of a MRSA victim to be just 23, an age when most people are generally healthy with competent immune systems.

After examining data from nine states, epidemiologist Scott Fridkin of the Center for Disease Control noted in the October 2007 Journal of the American Medical Association that the first national assessment of MRSA had been completed. This resistant bacterium was striking 31 out of every 100,000 Americans and producing 94,360 cases and 18,650 deaths annually. Compare this with AIDS, which killed 12,500 people in 2005, to get an understanding of just how deadly MRSA can be.

Nurses in school settings may want to make sure that their school administrators understand how important it is to have gym surfaces thoroughly cleaned. They may also want to help parents understand that overuse of antibiotics may have contributed to this problem and remind them, especially during the cold and flu season, that not every runny nose needs to be treated with a prescription drug.

For more information about MRSA itself, what it looks like, and when to suspect it, see, or For more personal blogs, check or Both of these can give you an idea of what treatment involves and what measures can be taken to avoid the problem.

Christine Contillo RN, BSN, has worked as a nurse since 1979, and has written extensively for various nursing publications as well as the New York Times.

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