MRSA... the global medical communities dirty little secret.
October 17, 2007 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. In 2005, invasive MRSA infections were estimated to have killed 18,650 in the United States alone. This may be a conservative estimate. It is going global. It is changing politics. It may become pandemic.

On a personal note, MRSA knocked my brother "offline" on June 5 2006 at 01:06 EST, and may have played a part in the "kill -9" of my and the Mrs. TPSL's "child process". We are both carriers. No... I'm not bitter.
posted by PROD_TPSL (113 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
On a personal note, MRSA knocked my brother "offline" on June 5 2006 at 01:06 EST, and may have played a part in the "kill -9" of my and the Mrs. TPSL's "child process"

posted by docpops at 11:56 AM on October 17, 2007

and may have played a part in the "kill -9" of my and the Mrs. TPSL's "child process"

Well, it's unix-speak for "the death of our child". I just don't understand why the unix-speak.
posted by mrnutty at 12:00 PM on October 17, 2007

The nordic countries are affected as well. Data from Sweden: no. of domestic cases and trend. But we don't have the ones with Reduced Susceptibility to Vancomycin. ...yet? The possible pandemic is truly scary shit. And your personal story adds to the horror.

posted by mnsc at 12:01 PM on October 17, 2007

Welcome back to most of human history, where bacteria are terrifying shit.
posted by mullingitover at 12:02 PM on October 17, 2007 [7 favorites]

I know two people who've tangled with MRSA within the last year and a half. One lost part of his leg up to the knee; the other nearly lost her foot, but squeaked by.
posted by lodurr at 12:04 PM on October 17, 2007

I just don't understand why the unix-speak.

To reduce the emotional impact? (I.e., make it easier to come out and say it.) Whatever works, PROD_TPSL.
posted by lodurr at 12:06 PM on October 17, 2007

My eighteen month old also had a run in with this, nothing too serious, but frightening never the less.
posted by zeoslap at 12:07 PM on October 17, 2007

Clean the living shit out of your cuts and scrapes immediately. For me that means wearing heavy work gloves in the shop or outside, and if I get a small cut I immediately stop work, and go in and scrub away and dress the wound. The worst cellulitis cases I've seen started out as innocuous nicks and cuts.
posted by docpops at 12:09 PM on October 17, 2007

I know two people who've tangled with MRSA within the last year and a half. One lost part of his leg up to the knee; the other nearly lost her foot, but squeaked by.

What happened? How did they get it? Did they have an existing wound the got infected?
posted by Mr_Zero at 12:10 PM on October 17, 2007

I had MRSA last year and had to have a rather sizable chunk cut out of my leg. What's worse is that they had to keep the gaping HOLE open so that it could heal from the inside out, and I had to go to the doctor every other day for about two weeks. It was extremely painful, nauseating, and frightening. It scared me so badly that I get so much as a zit and I start panicking now. ...because that's how it started out. It looked like a zit. A few days later, I was crying with pain.
posted by katillathehun at 12:16 PM on October 17, 2007

What happened? How did they get it?

My brother lost an eye to MRSA last Spring. We were grateful it didn't turn out worse. By the time it was diagnosed it was impossible to tell where it had started, but since it affected it lungs the worst the theory is that he was exposed during an earlier hospitalization for pneumonia.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 12:19 PM on October 17, 2007

I'm terribly worried I already have this. I had a small abrasion on my shin that went all red, blotchy and itchy and didn't go away for ages. It did, but that doesn't mean the infection itself is gone.

It seems to have subsided, but I don't really have any way of telling, I don't have insurance, and going to hospitals (especially general admission emergency rooms/wards) is a GREAT way to make sure you pick up MRSA.

*feverishly eats more raw garlic, stocks up on natural antiseptics like plain old soap and extremely hot water*
posted by loquacious at 12:22 PM on October 17, 2007

What happened? How did they get it?

In my case, I have no idea. I had just come back from working out. I don't recall having any open wounds. I just suddenly had this really painful but tiny bump on my leg that grew like something out of a B movie.
posted by katillathehun at 12:23 PM on October 17, 2007

It nearly did me in last year when I was infected in hospital after a partial thyroidectomy. My whole neck swelled up like an inner tube. As it ended up, the antibiotics used to kill the S. Aureus infection killed off the good bacteria in my stomach, allowing C. difficile to proliferate, which required another round of antibiotics.

All ended up good though, as my lactose intolerance appears to have lessened substantially!
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:23 PM on October 17, 2007

Our son developed a MRSA infection in his hand about 2 or 3 years ago. Fucking scary how quickly it attacked and developed. They had to operate...go in and physically scrape the infection out of his finger. Was in the hospital for a few days getting antibiotic IVs. Total quarantine. We still have no idea how he contracted the infection, or where.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:24 PM on October 17, 2007

One seemed to have contracted it in an Italian hospital. She got a compound fracture falling down the Rialto in Venice.

The other got an infected toenail. He's diabetic and already had some vision loss, so he didn't realize how bad it was until too late.
posted by lodurr at 12:25 PM on October 17, 2007

I assume you get it the same way you get any other (non-resistant) staph infection.

I had a staph infection last year that I picked up in Laos: I had a small scrape and then a kid threw a water balloon (full of dirty water) at me as part of this local festival. A few days later, a red blotch growing on my leg and a week of antibiotics to make it stop...
posted by vacapinta at 12:25 PM on October 17, 2007

Sweet Fancy Moses! I'd never heard of this before reading this thread, now everyone has it! I'm never leaving my bubble again!
posted by blue_beetle at 12:26 PM on October 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Yay, another thing to be paranoid about. *puts Kleenex boxes on feet*
posted by everichon at 12:27 PM on October 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

I had two serious staph infections while recovering from a broken leg four years ago, and another bout with infection last year, when a mesh screen that had been inserted for a surgical hernia (unrelated to the broken leg) had to be removed.

No one told me if any of it was "regular" staph or this kind, but I have wondered why I seemed to be so susceptible to infection, and why the ankle that was broken and took the brunt of the infection is still painful. This thread and the related links may finally motivate me to get myself checked out and ask more questions.
posted by yhbc at 12:32 PM on October 17, 2007

Yikes, makes me wonder if I dodged a bullet without even knowing it. I had some weirdly stubborn infections a couple years ago, did a few tests (incl. MRI, oddly) and suddenly one day the docs freak out and start carpet-bombing me with antibiotics. They were so thorough I sometimes wonder if I'm actually hollow on the inside, filled with charred wreckage and smoking craters.

...I always wondered why one day it was no big deal and the next they're handing out prescriptions like ticker tape and telling me to call in every day to say I'm OK.
posted by aramaic at 12:34 PM on October 17, 2007

I just don't understand why the unix-speak

When you have a child you will understand.

Frightening thread. Let's all remember:

Don't pick your nose!

I believe the crack of the ass is another great spot for this bacteria.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:35 PM on October 17, 2007

The AP article (aureus hyperlink) sure is eye-opening.

'Superbug' Deaths Could Surpass AIDS
"More than 90,000 Americans get potentially deadly infections each year from a drug-resistant staph 'superbug,' the government reported Tuesday in its first overall estimate of invasive disease caused by the germ.

Deaths tied to these infections may exceed those caused by AIDS, said one public health expert commenting on the new study. The report shows just how far one form of the staph germ has spread beyond its traditional hospital setting.

The overall incidence rate was about 32 invasive infections per 100,000 people. That’s an 'astounding' figure, said an editorial in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the study."
posted by ericb at 12:36 PM on October 17, 2007

To give a little historical perspective on this, penicillin was first recognized when Fleming was trying to cultivate Staph aureus on a plate and a fungal infection killed it, including a halo area where the fungus wasn't even growing. When it was purified, about 8,000 units of Penicillin G was able to cure someone of a Staph infection. Now a thousand times that amount won't kill most straings of Staph. Methicillin was developed to be able to attack resistant Staph aureus and is referred to as Staphcillin. MRSA is methicillin-resistant - resistant to the drug developed to attack it specifically. MRSA organisms are resistant to about 90% of all other antibacterials that could once kill Staph aureus. The next drug choice is vancomycin which is fairly toxic. Unfortunately, there is a fair bit of VRSA out there - vancomycin resistant. Ten years ago, vancomycin was the only choice for MRSA. There have been a couple of recently discovered drugs to attack it. These drugs are held in reserve - because if resistance occurs here, it's the 19th century all over again.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:36 PM on October 17, 2007 [4 favorites]

In the U.S., MRSA is frequently mistaken for brown recluse bites (even far outside the brown recluse range). This and other misdiagnoses are one reason that it has affected many people without becoming well-known. It's easily mistaken for other things.

MRSA isn't so much of a dirty secret as an emerging medical issue. From the 2004 report I just linked to:

In summary, it is probable that CA-MRSA infections are more common in the medical community and correctional facilities than clinicians are currently aware. At this time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are performing surveillance in several areas across the country to determine the prevalence and risk factors associated with this organism.

Until recently, MRSA wasn't of general concern because the known risk was restricted to places like prisons and nursing homes. The trend of rising diagnosed case numbers and some high-profile incidents outside the usual places (pro football players, for example) is why the report linked to in the FPP was conducted.

Hopefully this report will raise awareness and save some lives. My sympathies, PROD_TPSL and others.

(on preview: You often get it in places where people share objects that contact with their skin, such as locker room towels. Many people have it on their skin-- what's needed is contact with someone else and a break in the skin to infect. If you have a cut or abrasion, even a small one you didn't notice, it might get infected. My cousin who's on a wrestling team got it that way-- a cut on his leg during a match. But that's not an exclusive means-- poor practices at hospitals also infect a lot of people.)
posted by Tehanu at 12:39 PM on October 17, 2007

sure wonder how that gets around... one time i was about to transfer a patient to another hospital on the ambulance. my partner and i suiting up in all of the protective gear. then along comes some doctor, strolls on in without pause, picking up a stethoscope on his way in. doesn't disinfect a thing and just tosses it back on a table after rubbing the thing all over the patients mrsa infected chest. he had that jackass scoff when i pointed it out to him.

another time i was picking up an older lady. unbeknownst to me she had respiratory mrsa. didn't find that out till she had coughed a bit and one of the nurses (that i talked to before walking in the room) came strolling in with a mask. once i asked she told me i should have known that.
posted by andywolf at 12:48 PM on October 17, 2007

Two years ago I popped a medium-sized, pus-filled zit that spontaneously appeared on my elbow. Then the whole area started getting all red and swollen. I traced the edge of the swollen area with a pen and realized it was getting bigger. The grossest part was how I could grab on to the swollen area kind of hard for a while and when I let go an impression would be left there. My elbow hurt really badly, too.

The doctors gave me augmentin at first (~$80!!!) and when it didn't do jack shit after three days I went back and they gave me Bactrim (a "sulfa" antibiotic). They calmly said I had a "mursa" infection. Ok. So I went home, looked it up and realized they had said MRSA. I felt like I had dodged a bullet. Bactrim started working immediately. However, the bursa in my elbow (like where you would lean on) was mildly (but annoyingly) swollen for about two months afterwards.

It was too small to drain and the doctor said that I should just keep a pad on it (the pad was called the "Heelbo" - I HATE that name). "Being in bed with your woman" is really awkward when you can't rest on one of your elbows and you're wearing a big dorky pad on it.

Clean your fucking wounds, people. Keep some Bactine or alcohol or whatever and bandages and Neosporin and cotton swabs around for those little bullshit cuts.
posted by redteam at 12:50 PM on October 17, 2007

Wow, Tehanu, I was just about to comment about that. In 2005 I noticed what appeared to be a spiderbite on my then-girlfriend's (now wife's, happily) leg. I took her to the emergency room and got her on some antibiotics, but she was drastically worse the next day, and she wound up in the ICU for a day and a half. Those were probably the worst couple days of my life (not even counting the fact that I had to defend my MA thesis the day she got released from the hospital).

A few months later her dad, an MD, said that he was pretty sure her illness was misdiagnosed and that it was probably MRSA. She got really lucky -- there's only a nickle-sized divot about an eighth of an inch deep in her leg.

Gah, I really, really dislike thinking about this. My sympathies, PROD_TPSL.
posted by cog_nate at 12:53 PM on October 17, 2007

Having been through the whole SARS thing in Toronto, my conclusion that the worst place to be if you're sick is in a hospital. It's even worse if you're not sick. Between legionnaires disease, SARS, C. Difficile and MRSA a hospital stay could very well kill you. Also, I feel bad for health care workers. Being a nurse or doctor in a hospital is rapidly becoming as dangerous as being a coal miner.

My concolences on the loss of your child.
posted by GuyZero at 1:02 PM on October 17, 2007

I just don't understand why the unix-speak

When you have a child you will understand.

How about we start with, "IF you have a child, you will understand."

And even then I have a problem with that. Cause losing someone you love is not a mystifying thing. This expression is just so trite and dismissive to me. Ah well, it doesn't seem like it'll ever go away...
posted by agregoli at 1:05 PM on October 17, 2007

And PROD_TPSL, I'm terribly sorry for your losses.
posted by agregoli at 1:05 PM on October 17, 2007

Sure makes me glad I have an immune system and I've given it a little exercise by not flipping out over every little cut and by following standard Ask Metafilter "eat it" practices.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:06 PM on October 17, 2007

Aye, always give your immune system exercise. Live a filthy life.
posted by OldReliable at 1:12 PM on October 17, 2007

Previously (copy of content from dead FPP link).
posted by Tehanu at 1:25 PM on October 17, 2007

I just got over MRSA last week. It was horrible, stress-based and very painful. I'm feverishly putting on scarzone gel where the doctor had to cut my face open... and then I had to clean and drain the wound several times a day with gauze taped to my face. My zit went from tiny to 3 inches wide, blackish-purple in color, and standing out an inch from my face within 5 days. It was causing me to have vertigo and nausea from pressing on my lymph nodes.

It's easily the fourth such infection I've had in the past 4 years, and the doctor told me I was a carrier. I had to take 5 different treatments, one of which was vancomycin in my nose and I had to bathe in hibiclens.

If you get a zit and it turns red, go to the doctor. Have them culture it. Don't take a chance. Last year I nearly lost an eye. This year, the side of my jaw turned purple. I mean... the only good news I have to offer is, the doctor told me that after 3-4 years of having it and not knowing it, the body will eventually build up antibodies and I will hopefully be able to fight it off on my own.

If you have kids, DO NOT MESS AROUND. Take them to the doctor if they have a swollen red cut or bump! I'm serious!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:26 PM on October 17, 2007

Wash your cuts people. I got MRSA this summer after scraping my knee playing softball. A few days after, looked like pimple / spider bites. Then blew up and I couldn't even walk. Took lots of $$ and lots of time to get it healed. Not fun.

Wash yer cuts.
posted by tiburon at 1:34 PM on October 17, 2007

There doesn't seem to be any discussion on why we don't have the anti-bacterials to deal with MRSA. I know that it takes a long time for drug development and only a short time for the bacteria to evolve, so that puts us at a big disadvantage.

I've also read (Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma") that we are using anti-bacterials in places we probably shouldn't, as it only helps to spread resistance to the dwindling supply we have. Does anyone know of anymore good sources on the problems with using anti-bacterials and of development of new ones?
posted by herda05 at 1:36 PM on October 17, 2007

digaman wrote a good article about the lack on research into new antibiotics, but it seems to be MIA.
posted by homunculus at 1:40 PM on October 17, 2007

This is big in prisons too. Wonder why that’s not mentioned?
I’m a big hydrogen peroxide fan.

Y’know, sometimes I think that it’d be great to have a superbug like this cut down the world population a bit. Conceptually, we could use less humans on the planet.
But in no way would I ever actually wish that kind of pain and suffering as a reality.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:55 PM on October 17, 2007

I don't know what happened to that sidebar -- I'll look into it -- but the main story I published in Wired last February -- The Invisible Enemy -- contains lots of information about bacterial evolution and the spread of superbugs through health care facilities.

I focused on one particular superbug, Acinetobacter baumannii, which has been infecting soldiers returning froom Iraq, and spreading to -- and killing -- civilians housed in the same hospitals as returning vets. As I explain at great length in the article, for years, the Defense Department claimed that this bacteria was coming from Iraqi soil blown into wounds by IEDs. That's what CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier was told when she was wounded in Iraq and later developed an acinetobacter infection.

But as I revealed in my article, that is not true. In fact, we almost certainly introduced multidrug-resistant acinetobacter to Iraq, where now many civilians are infected with it, and many have died.
posted by digaman at 1:58 PM on October 17, 2007

Smedleyman writes "I think that it’d be great to have a superbug like this cut down the world population a bit."

Wouldn't work, people would notice the trend of kids not making it to adult hood and start having extra kids to compensate.
posted by Mitheral at 2:19 PM on October 17, 2007

...being that I am a Large Sized Guy, and where the fleshy bits rub on each other is a good place for infection, I've taken up washing with a betadine solution on an every-other-day basis. I may up that after reading this.

The stuff isn't cheap, but neither is my sight, my limbs, or my life.
posted by mephron at 2:26 PM on October 17, 2007

Why all the worrying? We've already found a cure, we just need to adapt it to this situation!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:30 PM on October 17, 2007

Got it the summer I graduated college. Had a roommate that worked as a community service worker, cleaning houses for the handicapped and mentally ill. We shared a bathroom. Was misdiagnosed as spider bites. Eventually turned into two quarter diameter holes, one in my buttock, and one in my left side, that you could put your index finger into up to the first joint. Bounced around between a handful of doctors until one looked at the wounds, and immediately diagnosed MRSA. Same doc told me I was probably two or three weeks out from heart damaging septicemia and potential death.

Also, the drugs they put you on that are strong enough to kill MRSA, feel like they're strong enough to kill the rest of you.

It's ugly, ugly shit.
posted by stenseng at 2:36 PM on October 17, 2007

we almost certainly introduced multidrug-resistant acinetobacter to Iraq, where now many civilians are infected with it, and many have died.

Was this 'introduction' deliberate?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:53 PM on October 17, 2007

I'm not prone to sickness, and I hardly ever get infections, but fuck me, as someone who routinely realizes that I've covered my hands and arms in small cuts (clearing brush, pets, etc) this is some scary shit.

Now I'm going to need to build a hermetically sealed clean room. I'd invite you in to keep you all safe, but I suspect that most of you are filthy, disease ridden, plague carriers.

So get off my lawn! I have to purge it from disease with fire.

*closes airlock hatch, engages remote flamethrower turrets*
posted by quin at 3:03 PM on October 17, 2007

> Was this 'introduction' deliberate?

No, not at all, but concealing the true source of the infections has undoubtedly contributed to more disease.
posted by digaman at 3:06 PM on October 17, 2007

Antibiotic Resistance

"Currently, it is estimated that greater than 55% of the antibiotics used in the US are given to food animals (e.g. chickens, pigs and cattle) in the absence of disease. Antibiotic use in food animal production has been associated with the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria including Salmonella, Campylobacter, Escherichia coli and Enterococcus, among others. There is substantial evidence from the US and European Union that these resistant bacteria cause antibiotic-resistant infections in humans."
posted by Slothrup at 3:08 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well, OK, the obvious question is: is there any way an ordinary health-care consumer can find out which hospitals have had cases or outbreaks of MRSA and VRSA?
posted by nicwolff at 3:34 PM on October 17, 2007

A recent study has shown that MRSA can replicate, hide out and spread inside an amoeba which ubiquitous in hospital wards and elsewhere.
posted by jamjam at 3:49 PM on October 17, 2007

Well, OK, the obvious question is: is there any way an ordinary health-care consumer can find out which hospitals have had cases or outbreaks of MRSA and VRSA?

There have been several attempts to institute such self-reporting networks among health-care providers, and guess what happens? The facilities with the worst outbreaks under-report, because they're not compelled to be honest by law, and end up looking "cleaner" than the facilities that are honest.
posted by digaman at 3:58 PM on October 17, 2007

nicwolf: my understanding is that it's endemic. The last time an ID guy lectured at me, community-acquired (as opposed to the demons that live in the hospital) MRSA still had good odds of being shot down by clindamycin. Linezolid was working pretty well against our resident MRSAs. He was also a big fan of aminoglycosides and to a lesser extent sulfonamides. He was of the opinion that floroquinalones would soon be completely useless.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 4:07 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

*runs to the bathroom and soaks foot in surgical spirits*
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:21 PM on October 17, 2007

I Blame Chicago
posted by timsteil at 4:26 PM on October 17, 2007

mm hmm.
posted by nervousfritz at 4:27 PM on October 17, 2007

That's great, TheOnlyCoolTim, but it could still happen to you. I also like to think that I have a rather healthy immune system. I eat stuff after it's been on the ground, I chew my dirty nails, I think open wounds look badass, etc. In spite of all my healthy environmental exposure, I still got that shitty elbow infection.

Maybe I wiped a little cut with a dirty hand towel and lost a saving throw vs. disease? Maybe I got it from the shower I shared with 30 other people in my dorm?

Look, I haven't become an obsessive handwasher since I got that infection, but I am a little more likely to disinfect a cut now.

I'll repeat my point: don't think it couldn't happen to you.
posted by redteam at 4:40 PM on October 17, 2007

Lightning or terrorist attack (if I remember right, the first is more likely) could strike me too.

Also meteors.

Hell, I've had one nicely infected wound in my life and probably more tiny ones than I can remember, so maybe I've already had the MRSA and don't even know it. Happened to me with mono - a later test showed it and in hindsight I was able to identify the time period when I slept a lot.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:53 PM on October 17, 2007

Robin Cook has a newish book out that has MRSA in it, being purposely spread for nefarious reasons. Fictional, but with a lot of factual information related to MRSA and how it is spread and contracted and such. Sorry, but I'm getting old and don't recall the name of the book, but it came out within the last year. (I was 22nd in the queue for it from the library.)

It really is some scary shit, especially the 'flesh-eating' variant, which can basically just dissolve your lungs and other internal organs until they resemble rotten jelly. If you contract that form of MRSA and it isn't treated immediately, it's almost always fatal. The problem is, people often don't realize exactly what they have until it's too late to do anything to save them, as the initial symptoms are similar to other more common (and non-fatal) illnesses.
posted by jamstigator at 4:59 PM on October 17, 2007

The mayo clinic says the cause might be, among others...

Antibiotics in food and water. Prescription drugs aren't the only source of antibiotics. In the United States, antibiotics can be found in beef cattle, pigs and chickens. The same antibiotics then find their way into municipal water systems when the runoff from feedlots contaminates streams and groundwater. Routine feeding of antibiotics to animals is banned in the European Union and many other industrialized countries.

Overall, approximately 20% of S. aureus isolates in Europe are reported as methicillin-resistant, whereas in US hospitals the prevalence ranges from 33% to 55%.

posted by lucia__is__dada at 5:03 PM on October 17, 2007

The other day, a flea jumped off a dead rat and bit me. Ever since then I've had these painfully swollen buboes. If I had health insurance I'd go to the hospital, but I'm broke and with the new bankruptcy laws I don't want to shackle myself with a lifetime of debt.

...I keed.

Really though, at least in the US, this situation is straight karma. Handing out antibiotics willy-nilly was dumb. Pumping our uninfected livestock full of antibiotics? Who's the genius who came up with this plan? I don't think we could've done a better job of making superbugs if we tried.
posted by mullingitover at 5:05 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I may have had this two years ago... I was getting infected ingrown hairs over and over again (in places where I didn't shave, mostly... usually my arms). After suffering with a sore in a particularly sensitive area during a long weekend trip to SF, I went to urgent care as soon as I got home and the doc drained a teaspoon-and-a-half of infected gunk out of the abcess. She then put me on industrial strength antibiotics usually used for TB, and that seemed to knock it out.

I had chalked it up to something in my environment--the problem started happening a week or so after moving to CA and stopped when I moved to a new apartment--but the timing could have been coincidental, and from the descriptions here I'm thinking I dodged a serious bullet.
posted by the_bone at 5:16 PM on October 17, 2007

mullingitover writes "Who's the genius who came up with this plan?"

It's called believing the ideologized free market theories as if they were more important than laws of natures and physics. It's ignorance wrapped in greed and stupidity. But of course, as somebody sells it as if it all was done to make the poor richer, it's unholy to question the wisdom of making poor richer , but also sicker. At some point we will see the rationalization that it all wasn't avoidable, but at the price of sacrificing millions to reduced use of antibiotics, less hygiene and blah blah.

For some reason, there is never any human component in human failures, expecially if some part of it could be traced to some less then disinterested decision making.
posted by elpapacito at 5:20 PM on October 17, 2007

The other day, a flea jumped off a dead rat and bit me. Ever since then I've had these painfully swollen buboes. If I had health insurance I'd go to the hospital, but I'm broke and with the new bankruptcy laws I don't want to shackle myself with a lifetime of debt

You're kidding, but Y. Pestis in fact is resident in fauna in the western US. Don't hang out with prairie dogs too much, cases are about 1/3 fatal. To be fair, that's mostly because it's so rare that you wouldn't expect it.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:37 PM on October 17, 2007

The evolutionary pressure makes bacteria developing resistance against anitbiotics. What you could try is to put evolutionary pressure against the evolutionary pressure and try to attac the bacteria with bacteria-specific viruses. AFAIK it was first developed in Georgia during Sowjet times.
Here and here.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 6:00 PM on October 17, 2007

perhaps an old technology, bacteriophages, will help. this is where the government could help as there would not seem to be money in this.
posted by caddis at 6:36 PM on October 17, 2007

I used to roll my eyes when my mom emailed me horror stories about the lady who died of staph that she got from a pedicure, but this is starting to freak my schniznit. I now know a young boy who lost *all* his limbs after getting this infection with pneumonia on top of it, and relies on assistance from charities to pay for his prosthetics because the insurance isn't like....helpful there. When I started reading this thread I got really nervous about this ulcer on my nose, and spent the rest of the day dabbing it with hand sanitizer. Blaugh! Give me cholera any day, but keep that flesh-eater away from me.
posted by wowbobwow at 7:32 PM on October 17, 2007

I got really nervous about this ulcer on my nose, and spent the rest of the day dabbing it with hand sanitizer

You'll be the doom of us all. Anti-bacterial soaps don't really help things...Best to use an alcohol-based soap.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:10 PM on October 17, 2007

For those worrying about dealing w/ this without insurance, starting in 2009, Medicare, the US government's health insurance program for elderly and disabled Americans, will not cover the costs of "preventable" conditions, mistakes and infections resulting from a hospital stay.

The idea being that the government doesn't want to pay for hospitals' lax sanitation and inadequate surgical procedures. I believe there's also a ban on passing the costs through to patients.

So, either hospitals are going to start forcing doctors to wash their hands, or else they'll drop Medicare/Medicaid patients. And while that will strain the system, it will also create a de facto "seal of approval" for clean hospitals -- whether they take Medicare or not.
posted by dw at 8:17 PM on October 17, 2007

You'll be the doom of us all. Anti-bacterial soaps don't really help things...Best to use an alcohol-based soap.

I suspect that when he says "hand santizer," he's referring to the commonly-sold solutions that are basically nothing but alcohol and glycerin, and sometimes some type of moisturizer.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:38 PM on October 17, 2007

Yes, it was alcohol-based germ killing liquid, with a whiff of soothing aloe. A good kick in the pants that is, on the mucus membranes. Also, not to be a blah, but I am a "she." I thank you for your future pronoun correction.

Not that it matters, but yeeees.
posted by wowbobwow at 8:51 PM on October 17, 2007

I was on my usual 2nd shift minding the Libra 185, and taking support updates from Diebold for the ATM's. ACH debits were processing and I was about to SFTP that days credit card payments and new accounts to FiServ... It was January 20th, shortly after 7pm when my father called me.

He told me my brother had been in an accident. It was not likely that he would be alive when I got to the hospital.

I told the shift manager and bolted. The aging Volvo 740 was a silvery streak across Jacksonville. Blanding to the 295 to 95 norhtbound... 8th street. Shands Jacksonville. ICU. Numb.

Mom. Dad. Grammy and Grampa. His son, my young nephew of nine. Many friends of his and mine from our intertwined past.

We wait. Hours.

A doctor. A report. Fractured skull. Spine broken between vertebrae 5 - 6. Quadriplegic. Respirator. Little chance of survival through that night. Fear.

He made. And many other nights. His mind was intact. We hadn't lost him. He was with us... in mind if not body.

His skull fracture was tended to. He made it through the surgery like a champ. These doc's were good.

A healing brace ordered. The beginnings of physical therapy. I worked with him when I could be there. We were told that we had to be careful. Not so much as a sniffle.

I remember how mom would comfort us when we were little.
I ran my fingers through his hair to calm him when coughing fits started... and helped put him to sleep.

He was gaining control of his arms. He could lift them above his head. I remember that first day. We all cried when he started getting the feeling back in his fingers.

We worked his legs and feet. He had grown so thin... muscles atrophying but we had to keep it up and stay motivated for him and him for us.

He felt his toes.

Then someone forgot to turn a man who was still classified as disabled through the night.

Bed sore. My father exploding with anger at such negligence. Damage done.

A special bed needed to keep the wound dry.

We kept working with him and keeping hope alive. Friends and family alike trying to be there everyday.

Pneumonia once... twice. In ICU and out again and again.

His insurance did not provide for private room despite the risk.

They then put a man in with him who was admitted with an infection. Fuckers.

He didn't have life insurance, just medical.

It wasn't long after that. My last words to him were "I love you. We will bring you home."

We had to force an explanation out of them as to the 180. "Mersa". An explanation with no meaning at all. No real warning as to how dangerous is was. There dirty little secret.

It only took eight days to unravel months of miracles. We were there. There was no other place we could ever have been. Mom. Dad. Grammy and Grampa. Me and the wife. All we could do was stand by and let him ride it down. I'd never seen a pulse so low... or pressure so flat. A cacophony of alarms. He fought to the end. He fought hard.


Half of my life left with him. We were 13 months 4 days apart. He remembered the things I forgot, and I could recall the details that seemed fuzzy to him. We watched the Muppet Show together in the lap of our father in his big comfy chair. Birthdays, Schooldays, Christmases. Snowball fights, sledding, roller coasters, bicycle rides.

So much to remember. So many photogrpahs we poured over together on Christmas weekend of the previous year. We laughed together and talked of childhood friends long unseen. Boys of Summerfield. Pickerington was such a good place to be a boy.

We brought him home. In a black marble urn. He sits in a garden lovingly tended to by my father. I call my mother weekly to talk.

Mrs. TPSL and I made a choice to have a child. It was the right thing to do. A son. A boy. To become a strong and just man, aware of the true threats that we face and the sacrifices that we will have to embrace.

Mom. Dad. Anniversary. We tell them. Mother broke down.

He was going to join us in early May.

She was 18 weeks along. Everything looked good developmentally. We were happy.

No one can tell us what went wrong.


We had a baby and now... we have nothing but silence.

Welcome to Year Zer0.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 8:57 PM on October 17, 2007 [18 favorites]

PROD_TPSL -- eloquent words for the memory of your brother and that of your lost daughter.
posted by ericb at 9:08 PM on October 17, 2007

PROD_TPSL you are in my prayers. My 7 year old daughter has just had a bout with this and the fear I have lived in both for her and my 5 month old son has been utterly terrifying. Absolutely, incredibly terrifying. I can't imagine your pain at such great loss.
posted by pearlybob at 9:19 PM on October 17, 2007

Cory Doctorow on how to wash your hands:

How to Wash Your Hands. Wash your hands before and after preparing food, after using the toilet, and any time they are grossly contaminated. (In between, use pump-action alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.) The single best way to prevent the flu is to wash your hands. But not everyone knows how to do it. Here's how:

1) Turn on the water and get it to a temperature you like.
2) Lather up using soap. (Soap does not kill germs. A bar of soap is a great medium for growing germs. The surfactant action of soap helps the running water flush the germs away. That's how it works. It's purely mechanical. Antibacterial soap is a waste of time and money, and just helps breed antibiotic-resistant bugs.)
3) Rub your hands vigorously together, paying special attention to the fingernails, getting up onto the wrists, for as long as it takes you to sing one stanza of The Star Spangled Banner or two verses of Little Mattie Groves.
4) Rinse off the soap with the running water.
5) Dry your hands with a paper towel.
6) Use the expended paper towel to turn off the water.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:36 PM on October 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

Frightening to learn about and glad to be aware now. My immune system is fragile because I'm surviving late stage cancer/6mo chemo/3 mo radiation. Then a stroke a year ago with brain procedure. Both hospitals I was in, Lenox Hill and St. Lukes in NYC, were filthy, literally human feces on the faucets in the bathroom, worse than gas station filthy. In the brain surgery recovery ward room I was in, I actually cleaned the floor, walls, sink bathroom myself it was that bad, then wrote a letter to the hospital administrator about the situation.

Wish a journalist would do a story on it. All I could figure was there is some union scam going on with the staff that cleans hospitals. Everybody else in the hospital seems to be a part of the team, whatever their nationality, color, creed. But not the cleaning staff. They seemed to be particularly angry inner city poor people and their loyalty seemed to be connected with the building super, as maintenance people, rather than hospital staff. It seems unreasonable, as well as dangerous.

The rest of the hospitals, the public spaces for visitors and non-ill people, were just ok, not great but workable. Couldn't believe the lack of hygiene in the areas patients were kept and wondered why the hell it was like that. Months later I needed to visit the hospital administration for some paperwork. Their offices, which had doors onto the filthy wards, were immaculate clean. Paperwork was kept in a superbly hygienic environment but ill and attempting to recover people were in wards that are disturbingly dingy.

There are floors in those hospitals for the super rich patients, which I heard from the nurses are as luxurious and clean as a spa in Switzerland.

I really want to do volunteer work in the hospital but am afraid of nosocomial diseases, staph and now the monster MRSA.

Knowing about MRSA, I will be much more diligent about taking care of any cut, careful to touch my face/eyes/nose as little as possible and seeing a doctor immediately if I get an infection.

According to this BBC News article, "Consultants at Wythenshawe Hospital found that using a vaporiser to spray essential oils into the atmosphere killed off micro-organisms. Airborne bacterial counts dropped by 90% and infections were reduced in a nine-month trial at the burns unit."

Now Scent Technologies has created a machine for hospitals, using certain essential oils that apparently diminish bacteria/microbes.

The use of essential oil vapours in the ST Pro machine to eradicate airborne bacteria.

It would be funny if hospital wards stopped smelling like creosote and smelled more of patchouli.

Anyone have an idea what essential oils they could/might be using as antibacterial or anti-microbial? Lavender, thyme, citrus, eucalyptus, tea tree?

All said, an excellent and informative post PROD_TPSL.

My heartfelt condolences on the death of your brother last year and that you and your wife are not able to conceive a child due to being MRSA carriers. It's a shock hearing what you've been through with this and I had no idea how rampant this very frightening disease is.

I'm so sorry for your losses. Thank you for your kindness in getting this potentially lifesaving information out there.
posted by nickyskye at 9:56 PM on October 17, 2007 [3 favorites]

Oregano oil
posted by hortense at 10:25 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

My word, PROD_TPSL, what a heart-wrenching story - how devastating for you and your family. Words are so frail, but I offer my most sincere condolences on your losses. It must have been painful for you to share your brother's story, but how much more powerful and serious it makes the information you shared. That was a sad but important gift to all who read this thread.

I also thank you for bringing us this potentially life-saving information.
posted by madamjujujive at 11:55 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

I recently worked on a large project involving MRSA-awareness in the US, where hospital-based infections occur in 1 in 20 patients. I've read a lot of literature and this list is a pretty good one regarding precautions to take when hospitalized.

Pay special attention to point 3. Central venous catheters are the best conduits for MRSA. If you have a surgery requiring one, insist on an antibiotic-impregnated catheter. Current literature suggests that a minocycline/rifampin combination or silver-chlorhexidine are the best choices.

This PBS interview with Dr. Richard Shannon, lead author of a recent study on the causes and costs of hospital-based infection, is a solid overview of the issues. Basically, with some standardized infection control practices, Shannon's facility was able to reduce its infection rate significantly. All hospitals should adopt similarly aggressive infection control standards.

I encourage anyone concerned about this to check to see if your state has mandatory reporting of MRSAs; if not, consider putting pressure on your legislators to make it so. I've heard too many sad stories like PROD_TPSL's now -- not only from my work, but from grieving friends. If you or someone you're caring for requires a surgery or central line, be focused and strong about receiving the best standard of care. I too am sorry for your loss, PROD_TPSL, and thank you for the post.
posted by melissa may at 1:34 AM on October 18, 2007 [11 favorites]

Hopsital cleanliness is a major political issue in the Uk right now. Clostridium difficile (C. diff.) has made the news as a recent report said an outbreak had killed 90 in a hospital in Maidstone in S.E. England. Reports suggested patients were having to lie in their own excrement as nurses on wards were overwhelmed. Here's one eye witness story: "the ward smelt of diarrhoea"
The number of hospital trusts that have failed to come up to standard on infection is the lead item on the BBC news site as I type. The controversy centres on a number of arguments, a key one being that hospitals (and hospital trusts - the agencies repsonsible for managing healthcare in hospitals) are too led by targets: targets for treating patients, targets for reducing waiting lists and plenty more and spend money there rather than on ward hygiene.

On a personal note, my mother was killed as a result of MRSA four years ago, aged 59. She went into hospital for an ongoing bowel problem, years of treatment meant she had a compromised immune system. She got infected, was pretty fucked up, looked like she was going to pull through then things went bad and she was dead within a day, multiple organ failure. That's what it says on the sdeath certificate too, no mention of the MRSA she got in the hospital, because the hospitals don't like to acknowledge that patients catch things in hospital, and certainly not things that kill them, because of course there are targets for that too. When she died I saw some estimates that only about 1 in 5 MRSA deaths was actually recorded as such in the UK, so no one had an accurate picture of how bad the situation actually was.
posted by biffa at 2:30 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Small point - "It is going global"? Really? It was discovered in the UK in 1961...
posted by twine42 at 4:14 AM on October 18, 2007

Apparently, the Dutch have very effective measures for keeping MRSA under control.
posted by klausness at 4:47 AM on October 18, 2007

Don't pick your nose!

On the contrary, pick the ever-living shit out of that proboscis and feed on the salty, immune system-building-goodness that it harbors. Fuck cleaning your cuts--only our precious life-saving snot can save humanity now.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:03 AM on October 18, 2007 [2 favorites]

posted by Pollomacho at 5:03 AM on October 18, 2007

loquacious wrote:

It seems to have subsided, but I don't really have any way of telling, I don't have insurance, and going to hospitals (especially general admission emergency rooms/wards) is a GREAT way to make sure you pick up MRSA.

Why don't idiot Democrats talk about things like this when promoting national health care? Uninsured people who have possibly contagious diseases forgoing the visit to the doctor and then possibly going to work in the food industry of restaurants that rich white Republicans with insurance patronize thereby exposing them to risk as well. I can't understand how the Democrats don't understand that the only way to get myopic Americans to listen to them is to make it personal for those who think it's not their problem.

Loquacious I'm just using your case as an example I don't know if you work in the food industry, but whatever you do you are exposing someone to risk and it really shouldn't be that way. Public health should be a right.
posted by any major dude at 5:23 AM on October 18, 2007 [4 favorites]

Civil_Disobedient: You, sir, are disgusting.

Possibly right. But disgusting.
posted by lodurr at 5:33 AM on October 18, 2007

PROD_TPSL, that was the most beautiful and heartwrenching post I've ever read on MetaFilter. Thank you, and sorry for your losses.
posted by digaman at 6:16 AM on October 18, 2007

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll today on Acinetobacter baumannii, quoting extensively from my Wired article published last February.
posted by digaman at 6:21 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Phage Therapy
posted by smcdow at 6:24 AM on October 18, 2007

PROD_TPSL, thank you for sharing your story. My thoughts are with you...
posted by DreamerFi at 7:20 AM on October 18, 2007

Warning: Slow news day. Break out the scary statistical meta studies.

I don't recall bacterial mass extinction in the 19th century or those preceding it. Nicks and cuts and picking your nose are anything but unique to the 20th century.

Go long Colloidial Silver, Echinacea and chicken soup!
Get ready for lots of greys walking around in society!
And remember to be afraid. Its the only saving grace for old media.

[Spoiler] Its a threat to the already immunocompromised. Reasonably healthy folks, move along, nothing to see here. All else, hit the gym, stat!
posted by Fupped Duck at 8:19 AM on October 18, 2007

Artificially hardy disease organisms, though -- those are basically a post-1940 phenomenon.

And the lesson is not that it's just a threat to the immunocompromised -- it's that it's a threat to people without good health care. Epidemiology 101: If you have a sick underclass, your society will be vulnerable to bad disease outbreaks.

Oh, and colloidal silver doesn't work.
posted by lodurr at 8:40 AM on October 18, 2007

I don't recall bacterial mass extinction in the 19th century or those preceding it

Oh, just that little thing called the Black Plague. There were several outbreaks, for centuries, which wiped out whole villages. Or cholera epidemics in London that killed hundreds overnight.
posted by digaman at 8:52 AM on October 18, 2007

Oh, and colloidal silver doesn't work.

[Neither does sarcasm, apparently]

The black plague occurred only because of of a bacteria but due to the convergence of many co-factors.
The plague struck hundreds of years before a good understanding of proper healthcare and yet never re-occurred on anything approaching the same scale as during the plague years.

Lodurr is right in the larger sense, but in evolution bacteria entirely precede us. No species can evolve without contending with it.
I could go on, but I short, I decry our fear mongering , medical news editors as I, for one, welcome our self-made mutant population-culling disease overlords.
Don't think "Oh noes, I has super bugs"-- think "Oh hai! Reasonable rents."

(Cassandra, please pass the cheese plate. the stilton is da bomb)
posted by Fupped Duck at 9:05 AM on October 18, 2007

Just to reinforce digaman's point about the black plague:

The death rate from the plague was erratic and ranged from twenty percent to one hundred percent. For the area extending from India to Iceland, it can be assumed that between thirty and thirty-five percent of Europe's population disappeared in the three years between 1347 and 1350. This meant about 20 million deaths out of an estimated population of 70 million.
posted by jamjam at 9:06 AM on October 18, 2007

...And never again, even though antibiotics were not to be discovered for another 600 years.
posted by Fupped Duck at 9:10 AM on October 18, 2007

Well, fuck. Not that I didn't know about MRSA already, but in addition to all the scary stuff everyone else has to worry about, I've got a full packload of antibiotic allergies which mean that I'm screwed if I ever get properly sick.

I deal with this by avoiding the doctor like the plague. I...guess it helps?
posted by fuzzbean at 9:16 AM on October 18, 2007

Unfortunately, the outlook for MRSA is even worse. The Vancomycin resistant strains present today are actually not truly resistant, they'll still be killed by higher doses (Though not everyone can handle that, because it is very toxic). There is a plasmid-borne factor that will give full resistance to MRSA (probably) soon. Plus, no new antibiotics have been approved since 2000, and even then resistance had been found within a year - remember it takes at least 15 years to develop a new drug. Scary stuff.
posted by fermezporte at 10:03 AM on October 18, 2007

We deal with this daily at our hospital. To put things a little bit in perspective almost everyone carries Staph. aureus around; it is part of the normal flora in our noses and on our skin. It used to be the case that antibiotic resistance was only seen in hospitals, where antibiotics are everywhere; when antibiotic resistant germs left the hospital that little bit of extra metabolic energy that went into antibiotic resistance put them at a competitive disadvantage and they would soon be overwhelmed by non-resistant strains. Unfortunately overuse of antibiotics has meant that now about half of the infections that come in from the community (for our hospital, but that number is typical of most in the U.S.) are MRSA. Although as the anecdotes above show, these can be serious, in fact the vast majority are skin and soft tissue infections that require drainage and antibiotics but are usually self-limited. Basically we see a lot of boils and the like from MRSA. We have had one case of MRSA endocarditis recently, which it pretty scary. It, too was community-acquired and started as an infection in the child's elbow. There are three main antibiotics that are effective against MRSA (there are others, but these are the ones I see most commonly used): Septra (also known as Bactrim, generic name trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole), clindamycin, and vancomycin. Septra is a combination of two antibiotics, has been around forever and is well-tolerated as well as fairly cheap, but does not get used as much. Clindamycin and vancomycin are usually very effective but have much worse side effects, such as knocking out the normal gut flora, leading to C. difficile infection as described above. Vancomycin in particular is a nasty drug to give IV; if you give it too quickly you may end up with red man syndrome.

What can be done? We monitor patients closely for it and anyone who may have it is put on isolation (gloves and gowns for any contact, discarded on leaving the room). If they are found to definitely have it they stay on isolation for every visit until they have two sets of cultures that are negative for it. We also do our best to enforce handwashing rules (although it is not possible to get 100% compliance, we are well over 90% when the ID people observe us without our knowing). Unfortunately studies have consistently shown that attending physicians are the worst offenders when it comes to handwashing; I am aware of this and try to be a better example. The most import thing would be to stop handing our antibiotics for every little infection. People seem to want an antibiotic for every little sniffle, even if it will go away on its own without treatment and even if it is caused by a virus that antibiotics do no good for anyway. Then, of course, there are the antibiotics we feed to livestock. I think this will continue to be a problem until we restrict antibiotics like we do narcotics, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

Anyway, that is a little primer an MRSA from my perspective. It's a little scary, but it can be managed. Good post, PROD_TPSL, and thanks for sharing your story with us. It sounds like you are due for some good karma soon, and I hope it comes your way.
posted by TedW at 10:14 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

PROD_TPSL, working late last night, I hadn't read your comment, the narrative of the hospital stay of your late brother, nor about your son's death. What a truly sad story and powerfully told.

hortense, melissa may, TedW, thank you for your excellent additional information. The added links in this thread are amazing, including how to wash one's hands. A great reference source.

It's such a surprise to hear how so many MeFites have had a run-in with MRSA. yikes.

Wonderful that Dutch hospitals have been practical in dealing with MRSA.

Having first hand experience that hospitals may lie by omission (The anesthesia/painkiller, Fentanyl brought me near death several times with low blood pressure and it wasn't recorded on my chart), I presume the info about a person dying of MRSA in a hospital may not released because of possible lawsuits against the hospital or the doctors working at the hospital. Bad for business.

From hortense's link it says, "Susceptibility of methicillin-resistant staphylococci to oregano essential oil, carvacrol and thymol."

There is an easily available, excellent thymol gargle, which is very inexpensive (usually just over $3) and has a silly name, Alkalol.

Any thoughts about taking carvacrol as an alternative to antibiotics?
posted by nickyskye at 11:21 AM on October 18, 2007

I looked briefly at the full text of the article on carvacrol. The authors suggest using it as a topical disinfectant but not as a systemic antibiotic. There are many potential reasons why a given compound may not be suitable as a systemic drug. It may not be absorbed well or may be broken down by the liver, which would limit its use to injection. Then, it may be toxic or have unacceptable side effects, especially at the doses needed for antibiotic activity. Yet another barrier to replacing antibiotics with something like carvacrol is that it may not penetrate into the tissues well enough to have significant antimicrobial activity. This is not my area of expertise, so there may be other reasons why carvacrol is not a replacement for antibiotics. It may well be useful as a handwash, but it is not really that hard to find good topical disinfectants. To eradicate a persons entire load of S. aureus, though, you would have to bathe in it and instill copius amounts into every body cavity. Even then you would probably leave little pockets of S. aureus somewhere that would the recolonize the body, or else you would have no control over what new organisms would sweep in to the microbiological vacuum you created.
posted by TedW at 11:53 AM on October 18, 2007

Thanks very much TedW, kind of you to write such a thorough response. Much appreciated.

Looking on Sloan Kettering's excellent site about integrative Medicine, herbs, botanicals & other products, About Herbs, Botanicals & Other Products > Search About Herbs ">it says about olive leaf extract and Staphylococcus aureus: Olive leaf extract has been shown to be effective against the following microorganisms: E. coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, S. aureus, K. pneumoniae, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, Microsporum canis, T. rubrum and Candida albicans.
posted by nickyskye at 1:50 PM on October 18, 2007

Medical honey is getting some attention as an MRSA-preventing wound treatment.

So is seaweed.

Interesting: oregano, seaweed, and honey.
posted by IcyJuly at 1:52 PM on October 18, 2007

StaphAseptic has tea tree and thyme oils in it. It prevents MRSA infections in minor cuts and stuff. You can see an educational video on the website too.
posted by windoe1 at 2:42 PM on October 18, 2007

This is terrifying. I'm /covered/ in your run-of-the-mill young-person acne, and now every last blemish looks suspect. It would be totally excellent if they discovered the most effective treatment for MRSA is concealer topped with a light dusting of face powder.
posted by Marquise at 4:34 PM on October 18, 2007

Fupped Duck writes "I don't recall bacterial mass extinction in the 19th century or those preceding it."

Ignorance doesn't mean it didn't happen. Infections like Syphilis, Tuberculosis (currently kills 1.6 Million people annually and, for example, in 1815 one in four deaths in England and 1 in 6 deaths in France was of consumption), and Legionnaires' disease routinely killed tens of thousands annually and disabled more. Leprosy is biblically infamous for its effects on humans.

Cripes cholera can kill you in just a day or even a few hours. Healthy at breakfast and dead before lunch you could be dead while trying to decide whether to blow your weekly AskMe question. There were six major cholera pandemics in the 1800s, the first in 1816-26. In addition there were numerous outbreaks including one in 1849 which killed 14K+ in London, 5K+ in Liverpool, and 10K+ in the US including famously President Polk.

Women routinely died from Puerperal_fever giving birth or shortly after often caused by staph or chlamydia infections.

Sure none of these wiped out 30% of the population in a few years if that's what you were looking for but infection pre antibiotics was a scary, scary thing.
posted by Mitheral at 6:02 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thank you. Thank you all for the words of support, and condolences. Thank you to all those who have helped shed more light on the facts of anti-bacterial resistance and MRSA prevalence.

Posting this was HARD and I hope that people can take away from it any information that may help them when they need it most.

Dark times are ahead of us all. Each and every one . I hope that we retain the strength and moral clarity to keep our societies together through it all.

Good night.

Good luck.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 7:13 PM on October 18, 2007

Don't think "Oh noes, I has super bugs"-- think "Oh hai! Reasonable rents."

Provided you find yourself on the right end of the sword. Go ask PROD_TPSL about lower rents, I hear he might have a room available.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:14 PM on October 18, 2007

I thought I'd share my experience. There's much worse, and it's not 100% that it was CA-MRSA since initial culture came back negative, but everything else pointed in that direction. It was officially 'cellulitis'.)

I'm under 30, reasonably healthy, and am really a case study of why you shouldn't ignore a scractch/wound that isn't healing (or red bumps on your legs even if they go away). I'd been to the hospital once (screening procedure) in the past 6 months but not stayed overnight.

The red bumps turned into a bruise, figured it was just an allergic reaction to soap or such. But then I scratched my bruise, and eventually "the leg" developed. I put neosporin/betadine on my leg for about two weeks. But the wound doubled in size one day and I went in.

It took me two weeks of bactrim, didn't get better. Got put on vancomycin (turned red) for two nights, then got another strong one for two weeks at home.

It's been 6 weeks and only one of my ulcers is pretty much healed (quarter and a dime sized, about 1/4-1/2 inch deep). I'm hoping to wear a dress by Thanksgiving, though it's likely Christmas.

So yeah, don't think you're invincible. Bactrim is actually a cheap prescription and it usually can take care of it.
posted by ejaned8 at 8:56 PM on October 18, 2007

Mupirocin aka Bactroban is a topical antibiotic used for carriers of MRSA.
posted by fermezporte at 9:39 AM on October 21, 2007

Uh oh.

Reading back through some of the drug names in this post has me a little freaked out, since I contracted a badassed staph infection after a small outpatient foot surgery in my dermatologist's office this past January. Ran through all the standard antibiotics to no effect, mupirocin, you name it.

I could barely walk for two months, and I had to raise a holy fuss just to get the damn wound cultured in the first place. "Oh, this looks fine..." (no, it didn't) "...but we'll culture it just in case"

Two days later: "You have a really bad staph infection and need to go on new drugs asap."

Ten months later I just got a dispute for the culturing bill from my insurance company. Sigh.
posted by at 7:13 AM on October 22, 2007

My wife almost died from MRSA about two years ago.

If she had realized was it was earlier, it wouldn't have been nearly as bad. But it was hell.
posted by jragon at 4:49 PM on October 28, 2007

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