Even as in-hospital infections are on the decline, more people are checking into hospitals with the drug-resistant staph infection than those with either HIV or influenza, combined.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has rapidly become the bacteria of the decade. MRSA infections now respond only to very advanced antibiotics that were never meant to be a first-line defense. Usually, the drugs have to be delivered intravenously -- which often means spending some nights in the hospital. And it doesn't help that the state of antibiotics is falling behind. With new antibiotics being approved at slower and slower rates, the battle against MRSA has many doctors worrying about creating a superbug they can't kill at all. Now, new data suggest that the MRSA problem may be even worse than we thought.
In a recent study by researchers at the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) and University of Chicago Medicine, the rate of MRSA infections recorded at U.S. academic hospitals doubled in the five years between 2003 and 2008. That means nearly 1 in 20 inpatients are now either battling an invasive infection or have been colonized by the bacteria (meaning they carry the germ but don't suffer from any symptoms). In each of the last three years, more MRSA-infected people have checked into the hospital than either HIV-positive or influenza-afflicted patients, combined.