We’ve known it for a long time now, yet we still do it: Scientists and doctors know that when antibiotics are overprescribed, it raises the risk that drug-resistant bacteria will eventually pose a health risk to humans as a result.
A new study has highlighted this issue, as it found that an extremely belligerent strain of “staphylococcus” is present in emergency rooms all across the United States. This type of bacteria is resistant to most antibiotics at this point, and for that reason it is now the biggest cause of skin and tissue infections in people.
Its full name is “methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus,” but I’ll call it MRSA for short. In most metropolitan areas, MRSA is the most common cause of skin infections. This is a change that has happened recently, as it never used to be this way. It’s essentially due to the fact that MRSA has evolved and changed for its own survival in cellular ways that make it able to withstand the effects of antibiotics.
Published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study illustrated how the MRSA situation started to change a few years ago. At first, the bug was confined to nursing homes, hospitals, and health care facilities. Now it has spread well into communities, infecting people who had never even been to a hospital. It can live in the nose for a long time and can cause severe infection. Most often, it appears as a pimple-looking boil on the skin, which is red and swollen.
Researchers examined infections in 422 people across the country and found that a whopping 60% had MRSA. In some cities, the prevalence was as high as 75%. What was remarkable was that one genetic type of MRSA accounted for 97% of all samples. This would be the strain that is resistant to antibiotics. When they examined case logs, they found that in nearly 60% of the cases doctors had prescribed an antibiotic to which MRSA was already resistant.
There are, however, several types of antibiotics that will work to cure the infection. The community infections are fairly mild, thankfully, and can be relieved by taking easy measures. In weakened individuals, it can progress to potentially life-threatening issues with your heart. If you want to protect yourself from these bugs, don’t share items such as towels and razors with others, and wash your hands often.