Main | Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Staph Bigger Killer Than AIDS

New data from the CDC reveals that more Americans die annually from complications of drug-resistant staph infections than from AIDS.
A dangerous germ that has been spreading around the country causes more life-threatening infections than public health authorities had thought and is killing more people in the United States each year than the AIDS virus, federal health officials reported yesterday.

The microbe, a strain of a once innocuous staph bacterium that has become invulnerable to first-line antibiotics, is responsible for more than 94,000 serious infections and nearly 19,000 deaths each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated.

Although mounting evidence shows that the infection is becoming more common, the estimate published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association is the first national assessment of the toll from the insidious pathogen, officials said.

"This is a significant public health problem. We should be very worried," said Scott K. Fridkin, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC.

Other researchers noted that the estimate includes only the most serious infections caused by the germ, known as methicillin-resistant S taphylococcus au reus (MRSA).

"It's really just the tip of the iceberg," said Elizabeth A. Bancroft, a medical epidemiologist at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health who wrote an editorial in JAMA accompanying the new studies. "It is astounding."
MSRA is particularly rife among crystal meth users. There have also been huge outbreaks at health clubs around the country, with professional athletes suffering outbreaks in their locker rooms, too. Scary stuff.

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