MRSA, Round Two

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

MRSA — it's a highly drug-resistant staph infection that has challenged researchers for years. In the past, it was mainly a problem that spread among patients in hospitals. But now, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a new variant of the strain that's even more resistant to antibiotics is spreading among gay and bisexual populations in San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. There's been a lot of talk about MRSA recently, and even more questions. Today NPR's Health Editor Joe Neel will break it down for us: prevalence, symptoms, prevention, treatment, you name it. Tell us your questions. And if you or someone you know has had it, how did you treat it? And what measures are you taking to prevent infection?

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Please, please let's not associate this as a "gay-related" disease... sound familiar? It's how HIV was referred to at first. This new staph infection disproportionately affects MEN WHO HAVE SEX WITH MEN. This is a bacteria transmitted by a behavior, not an identity, so describing it as such is simply inaccurate and only increases hate. We really don't need to increase the amount of hate in our communities, do we? Thank you!

Sent by Carrie Rheingans | 2:12 PM | 1-16-2008

How does this new bacteria stand-up to soap and water or rubbing alcohol? (Ans: It doesn't.)

Wash your hands people!
A bacteria does not care about your gender, sexual preference, race, or income level.
Gay men (probably) have more contact with "new/different" people on a more regular basis. That is what a bacterium wants. (To be spread around.)
Again, wash your hands!

Sent by Harold | 2:44 PM | 1-16-2008

Can you talk about Segregation plans some institution have in regard to patients and staff who have tested positive for previous exposure. Does this practice have the potential to become a employment discrimination issue?

Sent by Tony Colello | 2:47 PM | 1-16-2008

Can you get MRSA from a sweaty gym bike, treadmill, etc.? Should gym's be on high alert?

Sent by tracy | 2:50 PM | 1-16-2008

We hear about MRSA, but there are other infections that are extremely difficult to eradicate. My son is suffering from osteomyelitis and the latest infection is pseudomonas. These difficult bacteria can wreak havoc, and I understand that osteomyelitis is on the rise. How much attention is being paid to these other difficult bacteria?

Sent by Gloria McConnell | 2:54 PM | 1-16-2008

MRSA is not a disease. It is a staph aureus bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics that were normally used to treat staph infections. Bacteria normally live on peoples bodies, if you have ever had a pimple that has gotten infected, it is pretty likely that that was a staph infection. Some people are more prone to develop infections, elderly, diabetics, people with immune system compromise etc.
Bacteria are living organisms and as such can mutate to become resistant to antibiotics. So the answer is not necessarily to create new antibiotics-as the germs can develop resistance to these as well.
There are excellent sources of information on this topic, CDC web site is very good.
As your speaker indicated, handwashing, good personal hygiene and wiping down surfaces that can become contaminated with drainage or secretions from the infected area. are the keys to preventing ANY infection (including MRSA) that can be spread by contact.

Sent by Kathy | 2:58 PM | 1-16-2008

Categorizing this bacteria will only lead to its spread.

If people think it is a "gay" disease, and they aren't gay, they may naively think that they are less likely to get it and will be less cautious.

I am a straight, active, and healthy single-partner 29 year old female and I almost lost my life to MRSA last year.

The fact of the matter is ANYONE can get it at ANY time. I have deduced that i got mine from a bikini wax or the gym. I just wish the wasted time researching "who gets it" could have been spent on "how to cure it".

Sent by julie souffrou | 3:04 PM | 1-16-2008

I have read that Active Manuka Honey is very effective in fighting MRSA infections or any other wound. I am using it for something else that it claims is effective and it seems to be working. You can research on the internet if you are interested. Hope this information will help someone.

Sent by P | 3:53 PM | 1-16-2008

Are any women getting this infection from anal sex with a heterosexual male partner?

Sent by Mark | 5:25 PM | 1-16-2008

First of all, I would like to say that I listen to this show everyday and I enjoy the wide variety of topics that are discussed. I'm compelled to comment on a call taken from a woman named Carrie who asked that this disease not be seen as "gay-related". If I remember correctly, isn't this what the study found about the population that was infected with it? Instead of making a big deal about the terminology used in this study, i.e. the word "gay", why can't the precautions or seriousness of this disease be more of a concern? It just seemed that the focus of this discussion went way off of course because the caller didn't feel that the study or the quest speaker presenting the information found in this study were being politically correct. It doesn't matter if you are gay, straight, lesbian, or bisexual: this disease is out there and it is frightening!

Sent by Stephanie | 8:42 PM | 1-16-2008

Yes, GBLT people are hard to be ordinary citizen. Why so many homeless young people are GBLT. Their parents and society won't accept them.

Sent by terisa | 3:57 AM | 1-17-2008

This new strain isn't really so new this week - it is a more resistant strain of one that is circulating widely among the general public. But the published study is helpful to the gay community because it informs doctors how best to approach an MRSA infection in a gay man-even before a culture can be obtained. The MRSA strain is called USA300 and it is a community acquired strain of MRSA that is highly virulent and can infect anyone - perfectly healthy people usually get infected. (Before 1997, MRSA was only seen in hospitalized patients with underlying risk factors). USA300 has been "new" for several years now. It has been found more often among sports teams, gyms, schools, jails etc..and causes skin and soft tissue infections and fasciitis and severe sepsis and death. This is a long story but here goes- USA 300 seems to spread better and cause more severe disease than the predominant hospital acquired MRSA strains. Whereas the hospital acquired MRSA are often multiply resistant, USA300 has usually been susceptible to most antibiotics, even though it was resistant to Methicillin. The USA 300 strain among gay men has acquired a plasmid that carries additional antibiotic resistance genes. So it is helpful to gay men to let the general doctors know what their treatment options are. It could save a life or a limb...

Sent by MRSA researcher | 11:09 AM | 1-17-2008