Article of Interest
to Midwives
Deadly Germ Becoming
Resistant to Medicine
  Scientists fear catastrophic outbreak

 

Staph bacteria are the No. 1 cause of hospital infections. They are blamed for about 13% of the nation’s 2 million hospital infections each year, according to the CDC. Overall, these 2 million infections kill 60,000 to 80,000 people.

Bacteria can collect on clothing, blankets, walls, medical equipment. Hospital workers can pass them on by hand, and they can cling to tubes into the body.

Associated Press

Atlanta

A staph germ that causes thousands of often deadly infections among hospital patients each year is becoming resistant to medicine's drug of last resort and could soon prove to be unstoppable.

A new strain of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria that was discovered in a Japanese infant showed resistance for the first time against vancomycin, which has been around since 1970 and is used when other antibiotics fail.

The 4-month-old child developed a boil while recovering from heart surgery. The bacteria strain had an "intermediate" level of resistance to the antibiotic - one step away from becoming immune, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

"The strain is marching up the ladder of resistance," Dr. Fred Tenover, laboratory chief of the CDC's hospital infections branch, warned yesterday. "It is not a cause for panic, but it is a cause for concern."

The strain has not yet reached U.S. hospitals, but health experts said it is only a matter of time before it does.

In the meantime, the CDC and other experts said, hospitals need to tighten their practices to prevent the spread of germs and doctors should use antibiotics more sparingly. Pharmaceutical companies are already working on new antibiotics.

The Dallas Morning News reported the resistance yesterday.

Staph bacteria are the No 1 cause of hospital infections. They are blamed for about 13% of the nation’s 2 million hospital infections each year, according to the CDC. Overall, these 2 million infections kill 60,000 to 80,000 people.

Bacteria can collect on clothing, blankets, walls, medical equipment. Hospital workers can pass them on by hand, and they can cling to tubes into the body.

Doctors have long known that many common bacteria are growing resistant to antibiotics.

The resistance is attributed to overuse of antibiotics and the failure of some patients to take their medicine properly. Some patients stop taking their medication once they feel better but before the infection has been knocked out, enabling the hardiest germs to survive and multiply.

Before antibiotics Staphylococcus aureus was one of the most deadly germs. The bacteria live harmlessly in the nose and groin but can cause infections if they enter the bloodstream.

"It was a dreaded, overwhelming infection," said Dr. Robert Haley, chief of epidemiology University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "When antibiotics came, those things became a thing of the past."

Penicillin was a wonder drug that killed staph germs when it became available in 1947. Within a decade, some strains grew resistant. Then came methicillin in the 1960s, then vancomycin which was so potent it was regarded as medicine's "silver bullet" against staph.

"We have been living since 1970 using vancomycin with no fear that any staph was going to be resistant to it," said Haley, former chief of the-, CDC's, hospital infections branch. "This changes the whole game."

He added: "The drug has taken the first step by learning to become resistant. we expect in another year or two or three, we might see it fully resistant."

Click the pic to return to the Goodnews Network Home Page

Comments to
Goodnews@best.com