Time running out for MRSA

Apparently, “most doctors” have not heard of the “new” killer big that left a nine-year old boy with lungs full of holes after a bad scrape to his knee. At least that’s according to an article in Time magazine. And it seems that readers of the Digg site too were at a loss to understand how this bug could have remained so anonymous. So, what is this mystery bug?

Well, it’s none other than MRSA, or methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, sometimes labelled as multiple resistant, mentioned numerous times on this site and countless others. This nasty little microbe, as it’s name would suggest is a strain of S aureus that has evolved resistance to methicillin, and various other antibiotics. It’s well known in the UK, Japan and elsewhere. It’s certainly been the subject of multiply repugnant media scare stories about killer hospitals in the UK for the last couple of years at the very least. Indeed, its existence has prompted the UK government in its usual kneejerk response to media scare stories to have the whole of the National Health Service re-organised so that everyone has to use an antiseptic gel, wet wipe or whatever every single time they enter a ward, exit a ward, breathe in, breathe out…….

The variation on theme cited by Time, however, adds another couple of capitals to that acronym C and A for community acquired MRSA. This bug has hit the streets in other words.

The street-wise MRSA is not such a tough cookie as its hospital-dwelling cousin. It does respond to antibiotics, but it does spread much more easily among otherwise healthy people, says Time, and could, under pressure, evolve significant resistance. The strain that nine-year old picked up from a knee scrape spread through his body very rapidly indeed. But, his is not an isolated case. Never mind H5N1 and SARS, it’s MRSA you have to watch.