I just came back from a clinic visit with my 88-year-old father. They said he has a community mersa infection (at least that's what it sounded like). They also said it was "good news". How can having an infection like that be "good news"? I don't get it.
The overuse of antibiotics has led to bacteria that have become resistant to the effects of antibiotics. You may have heard of this problem. The term superbugs has been used to describe staphylococcus aureus ("staph") bacteria that are no longer killed off by drugs. The infection that can develop is called methicillin-resistant S. aureus or MRSA (pronounced Mer'-suh).
The number of cases of MRSA continues to rise steadily. The biggest group of patients affected are those in the hospital, nursing homes, or other extended care facilities. Patients on dialysis or who have a weak immune system are also at increased risk for MRSA. But there's another twist to this story. Now there is community-acquired MRSA or CA-MRSA infections.
Community-acquired MRSA (CA-MRSA) is a methicillin-resistant staph infection that occurs in healthy people. These folks are not in the hospital, they are not on dialysis, and except for this new infection, they are otherwise in good health.
There's good news and bad news about this type of bacteria. The bad news is that studies have shown this type of superbug didn't spread from the hospital to the community. It's a different bacteria with a different genetic makeup compared with the hospital-based MRSA. The good news is that community-acquired MRSA infections can still be treated using antibiotics.
We suspect this last piece of information explains why the health care staff working with your father mentioned the "good news" linked with CA-MRSA.
Ali Nourbakhsh, MD, et al. Stratification of the Risk Factors of Community-Acquired Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus Hand Infection. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. July 2010. Vol. 35A. No. 7. Pp. 1135-1141.
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