Thursday, October 25, 2007

When Staph Strikes

In case you haven't heard, America is experiencing a dramatic increase in drug-resistant staph bacteria infections. The name for it is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. (MRSA for short.)

The other day my friend Peter in China sent me an article from the New York Times that explains that these infections now kill more Americans annually than AIDS, emphysema or homicide. An estimated 19,000 lives were lost in 2005 alone.

From what I understand, a good portion of us all carry staph bacteria with us with no apparent consequence. For some, however, the bacteria infects the skin and wreaks havoc, usually in the form of pimples, boils, and abscesses. It's when the the bacteria (particularly MRSA) gets further into the system that the situation gets more complicated.

Many of you may remember my several skin problems last year. From March 2006 to January of this year, I had in various regions of my body three boils, one stye, and one abcess--the last of which had to be removed surgically.

After waking up to the seriousness of my problem (and some coercion from my sister), I eventually got myself onto an antibiotic treatment. From what I can tell, my system is now clean. (And, thankfully, I didn't have MRSA.) But with the latest wave of news, I've recently learned that having been put on an antibiotic in the past now puts me at higher risk for staph infection in the future.

Why am I sharing this? Well, as the Times suggests, staph isn't just my problem, it's everyone's problem. We all need to be aware of this danger and work together to keep it from becoming an even greater danger than it already is.

Here are some tips I stole from Gothamist:

-Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily

-When antibiotics are prescribed, take the full course

-Wash your hands throughout the day with soap and water or alcohol wipes

-Never share personal items, such as towels or razors

-Keep cuts and scrapes covered with a bandage until healed

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sounds good