MRSA Plague Making Way Into Communities

Tony Abdo gojack10 at
Sat Nov 1 10:49:21 MST 2003

There is nothing below that should 'bewilder' the docs.     This is a bug
that was created in the capitalist hospitals themselves, and is now
beginning to pop out of their breeding laboratories into the community at
large.    Note in the article the admission that the bacteria were
originally confined to the hospital population.     This is an MD created
disease.     And what is being seen in this article is only the tip of the
iceberg, as for as the microbic ecological imbalance created already by
capitaslist medical practices.     Tony

Increase in staph infections bewilders local physicians
By LEIGH HOPPER     2003 Houston Chronicle Medical Writer
A 14-year-old baseball player from Alief, unconscious and on a breathing
machine in the Texas Children's Hospital intensive care unit since Oct. 22,
is the latest in an alarming series of hospitalizations triggered by
antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as MRSA.

MRSA is the acronym for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a
bacterium once seen only in hospitals but now widespread in communities
across the country -- and causing severe, sometimes fatal, disease in
Houston youngsters. In the past four months, Texas Children's has seen at
least three deaths among patients with overwhelming staph infections and a
dozen more children requiring ICU treatment.

"Something is going on. I know the intensive care people are very upset
about this because of the deaths and the severity (of illness)," said Dr.
Sheldon Kaplan, a Baylor College of Medicine professor and chief of
infectious disease at Texas Children's, one of the country's largest
children's hospitals. "I think we have a problem."

Typically, staph causes nothing more than impetigo, or small boils on the
skin. But in its most ferocious form, staph can invade the heart or cause
bone infections, pneumonia and blood infections. Scientists understand very
little about why the microbe, which commonly resides harmlessly on the skin
or inside the nose, sometimes turns deadly. Antibiotic overuse has been
blamed for creating mutant strains that are increasingly difficult to

"Some of these common strains contain certain genes which make them more
virulent, so (MRSA patients) get sicker than you might expect another staph
to be," said Dr. Ed Septimus, an infectious disease expert with the Memorial
Hermann Healthcare System.

Because of heightened concern about life-threatening MRSA, Kaplan, president
of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society, is giving weekly talks about
MRSA to local pediatricians and at national scientific meetings. Letters
have gone out to the Texas Children's medical staff recommending specific
antibiotics against the infection.

At Memorial Hermann Children's Hospital, which has reported no MRSA deaths,
new cases are considered antibiotic-resistant until shown otherwise and
patients are placed in isolation. "MRSA has increased markedly," said Dr.
Gloria Heresi, an associate professor of pediatrics at University of Texas
Medical School at Houston. "It's concerning."

Pediatricians are seeing some of the most severe infections not in small or
medically fragile children, but in strapping, healthy adolescents. No one
knows why. Dr. Regina Okhyusen-Cawley, a pediatric critical care specialist
at Texas Children's, said the infection may originate in a minor sports
injury, but in many cases there's no apparent cause.

"It's very scary from the medical standpoint to take care of these kids,"
said Okhyusen-Cawley.

Severe, life-threatening staph infections are the most frightening
manifestation of a growing public health concern, the surge in MRSA cases
both lethal and mild. Health experts are worried because the bacterium, once
easily beaten by penicillin-related drugs, is undeterred by many
conventional antibiotics. Doctors must now resort to vancomycin, given
intravenously, or a battery of lesser antibiotics that take longer to work.

In recent months, MRSA -- transmitted by skin-to-skin contact, sharing
towels or unwashed athletic equipment -- has made headlines because it is
plaguing sports teams, at all levels, with clusters of skin infections.

Last November, 29 athletes at Pasadena's Sam Rayburn High School suffered
staph infections. In August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
reported MRSA infections among fencers, wrestlers and football players at
high schools and colleges in four states. Cases are cropping up among
professional athletes, including the Houston Texans, which has had five
lab-confirmed cases since July. In addition, correctional facilities in
Texas and elsewhere are reporting MRSA outbreaks.

Risk factors and the prevalence of community-onset MRSA -- MRSA infection
not associated with hospitalization -- are difficult to assess because there
has been no large-scale tracking by state or federal epidemiologists. Once
confined to nursing home and hospital populations, severe,
community-acquired MRSA only recently mushroomed into a widely recognized
concern. CDC is beginning a national program of surveillance for infections
with MRSA.

In Houston, infectious disease experts say the prevalence of
antibiotic-resistant staph has soared, particularly among children. UT
Medical School researchers say they can pinpoint a risk factor for
contracting MRSA in about half of pediatric cases. Those risk factors
include being in child care, having a family member who is hospitalized or
having taken many antibiotics. However, in the other half of children, there
are no identifiable risk factors for MRSA infections, Heresi said.

Of the staph isolated from patients at Texas Children's with
community-acquired infections, 70 percent are MRSA, up from 33 percent in
February 2000. The number of invasive cases -- infections of the bones,
bloodstream or lungs -- jumped 30 percent between 2001 and 2003.

"That's a very big deal," Kaplan said. "This is not just Houston, Texas.
This is being seen throughout the state of Texas. This is becoming a major

Seven-year-old Zacharias Nunley was admitted to Memorial Hermann Children's
Hospital in August with a mysterious, excruciating pain in his leg. He had
no scrapes, insect bites or injuries anyone knew of. A surgeon found fluid
in Zacharias' hip teeming with MRSA and a blood clot caused by the infection
that could have killed him.

The second-grader spent three weeks in the hospital on IV antibiotics. Now
back at school, he has his blood drawn and tested every week and will be on
oral antibiotics until March, said his mother, Charla Rigsby.

"I said, `How did he get it? Do I need to throw away my furniture? Was it
the food?'," Rigsby recalled. " They said, `No ma'am, the bacteria is
everywhere. There's no telling where he got it.' That's what really, really
truly bothered me."

MRSA's origins are unclear. For years, it has been a serious problem in
hospitals and nursing homes, evolving among severely ill patients on
antibiotics. The birth of community-acquired or community-onset MRSA --
genetically distinct from the hospital-acquired type -- remains a mystery.
Overuse and improper use of antibiotics are considered one culprit.

Okhyusen-Cawley said children with fever, pain in a specific joint or bone,
or respiratory distress "need to be evaluated in an ER and most likely
admitted for IV antibiotics.    The kids have a history of two or three days
of not really being themselves, and then they get really sick very
suddenly," Okhyusen-Cawley said. "It's just nasty, nasty, nasty."

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