Battling the Superbug
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, made frequent headlines as the so-called "superbug" and put the spotlight on the growing threat posed by drug-resistant bacteria.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has for years called antibiotic resistance one of the world's most pressing health problems. Overuse of antibiotics is a major reason that bacteria have evolved and developed resistance to drugs. Many people haven't paid much attention. Until now. The virulent strain of bacteria that resists many antibiotics has long been a serious issue in hospital settings, which is still where the vast majority of cases appear. But when MRSA started showing up more frequently in the general community it became front-page news. The infections typically spread by contact with infected skin or objects and often occur among people prone to scrapes and cuts, as well as those in crowded living conditions and people with poor hygiene. Children and athletes across the country were given crash courses on lowering their risk of contracting MRSA or spreading it.
What to Watch:
The push to promote better hand washing habits and other basic hygiene practices will continue as doctors, public health officials, and parents continue to stress how effective they are at preventing staph infections. What's not clear is whether the new precautions will stick once the headlines about a "superbug" fade. And the bigger question is, will people begin showing more care in the use of antibiotics — parents by not pressuring pediatricians to prescribe them and doctors by resisting when they do? And if they don't, will even more persistent virulent bacteria appear on the horizon?
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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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