Connie Savor Price, MD, is Medical Director of Infection Control and Prevention and Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Denver Health Medical Center. She is also Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver. She has a long-standing interest in drug-resistant bacteria. As a hospital-based infectious disease doctor, she was used to seeing hospital-acquired infections with these kinds of organisms; after all, to paraphrase Willie Sutton, thatís where the bugs is. Also, itís where many people are being treated with antibiotics, and where many of them have weakened immune systems, allowing better growth opportunities for the bugs. So hospital-acquired drug resistant organisms are not rare or surprising. Staphylococcus aureus is one of the most common causes of wound infections. Many strains found in hospitals are now resistant to one of the former best antibiotics, methicillin, and to currently used versions such as floxacillin. This does not mean they are not susceptible to any antibiotics, but the range of choices is limited and they are more difficult to deliver to the patient. Staph aureus causes many sorts of infections and can produce toxic shock syndrome. Over 275,000 people were hospitalized with MRSA in the USA in 2005!
Recently MRSA has been found in the community, not acquired in a hospital, so it is called CA-MRSA (community-acquired.) There is evidence that these strains are more virulent than those found in hospitals, but this is a controversial subject. They make the same toxins as do the hospital strains, but much more per bacterium, thus producing more serious disease. Are these strains coming from antibiotic treated animals? We will discuss the press furor about MRSA, put it in context, and see what the issues, problems and possible solutions might be.
Staphylo- means "like a bunch of grapes."