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As MRSA infections are controlled, deadly gram-negative bacterial infections multiply

Bloomberg reported this week that hospitals are apparently making progress in limiting and controlling the occurrence of hospital infections involving  MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus bacteria.  The rate of infection, traced to inadequate sanitary practictes, has been reduced by fifty percent  since 1997, according to a new study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  The study will be published tomorrow in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  MRSA germs still caused 19,000 deaths and more than 100,000 serious illnesses in 2006, alone.

While the news regarding MRSA was guardedly good, the news regarding methycillin-resistant gram-negative microbes was frightening.  The Los  Angeles Times reported that the number of hospital or nosocomial infections caused by these microbes in 2006 may have out-numbered MRSA infections.    The authors also pointed out that the microbes appear to be developing resistance to the last known treatment option, carbapenems. As a result physicians have been forced to turn to kidney- and ear-toxic antibiotics such as colistin.  In one hospital on the east coast, colisitin was prescribed only once in 2001, but 68 times in 2007.

It was a gram negative microbe, drug-resistant Pseudomonas, that resulted in the death of the Brazilian beauty queen earlier this month, after doctors had amputated her hands and removed her kidneys in an unsuccessful attempt to treat her UTI-related sepsis. Other gram-negative microbes are Acinetobacter and Klebsella, which was first identified in a drug-resistant form in 2000.

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