Monday, May 17, 2010

Keep on Cleaning Surfaces and Washing hands, MRSA Rates are up Ten Fold

Dangerous skin and surface transferred bacteria (MRSA being only one) continue to increase in prevalence (and much worse virulence) throughout the United States. With no new antibiotics on the horizon and the ones we now use having little or no effect the only measure to limit these resistant bacteria is ever more cleaning and hand washing.

Ten percent bleach solutions are the best for killing these bacteria on surfaces. Alcohol also is capable of killing many of these bacteria, but is not as comprehensive as bleach solutions. Ultra violet light (as in sunlight) also kills them. Soap and water does very little but spread them around on the contaminated surfaces.

Any surface touched by any human can harbor these bacteria. The bacteria can still be cultured from completely dry surfaces for weeks after being initially contaminated. Bare wood is the safest surface material as they seem to die rather quickly on wood. Plastic is the absolute worse. An eight week test with various materials including plastic, metal, wood and cloth found that there was no diminishment in infectivity on plastic over the eight week period. Dry cloth as in sheets, towels and pillow cases was also surprising capable of causing infections for weeks. It had been thought that bacteria died on linens and towels rather quickly. But in this test using MRSA they did not. Why they survive so long on cloth, is unknown. With plastic there seems to be a good reason for their extremely long survival. Apparently even smooth feeling plastic contains millions of tiny depressions in the surface that are perfect incubators for bacteria.

Door handles, computer key boards, desk tops, text book covers are all key areas that may contain these newly evolved antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Good luck out there. Keep cleaning commonly touched areas in the classroom and keep washing your hands regularly. (Even though soap and water mostly move the bacteria around on surfaces, they are effective on the hands as the soap lifts the bacteria and running water carries them off the hands to the drain.)

A good way to know if you have washed long enough is to repeat the ABC song in your head as you wash. Wash all surfaces on your hands especially the finger tips. Scrub hard you are using friction and lubrication to break the connection of the bacteria to your skin cells. Once the connections are broken and loosen by soap and friction, away go the bacteria. It seems that bacteria have millions of tiny villi on their surfaces that act a lot like Velcro, but soap loosens their hold on human skin cells. When you finish the ABC song you have probably washed sufficiently.

The number of children hospitalized with dangerous drug-resistant staph infections surged tenfold in recent years, a study has found.

Disease incidence increased from two cases to 21 cases per 1,000 hospital admissions from 1999 to 2008. Most infections were caught in the community, not in the hospital.

The study, which was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, involved methicillin-resistant staph infections, called MRSA. These used to occur mostly in hospitals and nursing homes, but they are increasingly showing up in other settings among children and adults. Recent evidence suggests hospital-acquired MRSA cases may be declining while community-acquired cases are becoming more common.

The results are "a good example of how something that is not unexpected remains alarming," said Dr. Buddy Creech, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University who was not involved in the study.

The study involved 25 children's hospitals; the tenfold increase in hospitalizations probably occurred nationwide, said Dr. Jason Newland, the lead author and an infectious disease physician at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo., and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Almost 30,000 children were hospitalized with MRSA infections at the hospitals studied during the 10-year period. Most had skin or muscle infections, and 374 of them died. Although NewlandMRSA caused those deaths, it can be deadly and is blamed for more than 18,000 deaths in children and adults nationwide each year.

The study didn't examine whether deaths or the severity of infections increased.,0,5579892.story

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