Is there a epidemic of staph infections?
January 4, 2007 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Is there a epidemic of staph infections? I have three close friends who have recently gotten bad cases of staph infections..

the specialists here at the University of Minnesota scared the hell out of them with stories of death, disfigurment and epidemic ... yet not much in the media. Anyone else have any experience with this?
posted by specialk420 to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My mother has had two staph infections in the past 12 months. Both took a really long time to clear up (far longer than the doctors anticipated). Nothing was mentioned about an epidemic, though.
posted by chelseagirl at 9:17 AM on January 4, 2007

I recall reading an article somewhere about how American hospitals were behind European institutions in fighting Staph and other hospital-related infections. I don't have the time right now to search for that article properly. Maye someone else can find it. In the meantime, here's Wikipedia's take on it.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 9:18 AM on January 4, 2007

Yes, there is an epidemic of drug-resistant staph infections. Here's a reprint of a Wall Street Journal article on the subject. More here.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:18 AM on January 4, 2007

Staph is ubiquitous. An epidemic would suggest levels of infection unusually greater than historical; staph has been with us forever.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:22 AM on January 4, 2007

You BigLankyBastard, linked to a NY Daily News Article on G.W. spying on US Citizen's snail mail. Here's the Wiki Link...
Scary Stuff... I have a bump on ny neck, and if squeezed, out comes a pasty white excretion that stinks like nothing else... My PCP say's it's safe, but I think I'll get a second opinion...
posted by joecacti at 9:47 AM on January 4, 2007

I'm wondering if they're just catching it more - possibly due to realizing that Europe thinks we're all infected. (I think it's the Dutch that consider all Americans rife with multidrug-resistant strains and when hospitalized, must be isolated.) I've had two friends in the last year be diagnosed with non-hospital-acquired staph infections myself.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:48 AM on January 4, 2007

An epidemic would suggest levels of infection unusually greater than historical;

No, a pandemic refers to a situation with an unusually high prevalence of cases.
posted by docgonzo at 10:07 AM on January 4, 2007

Oh, and the "staph epidemic" you're likely referring to is community-acquired methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA). See report from the CDC's MMWR (the best source for information about usual and unusual patterns of mortality and morbidity) here.
posted by docgonzo at 10:10 AM on January 4, 2007

Having been the lucky winner of a MRSE infection (that was suspected to be the far worse MRSA) that didn't come from a hospital and having spent a lot of time talking to the infectious diseases doc, here's what I took from it:
1. Yes, there are more nasty strains of staph kicking around than before
2. There used to be a distinct difference between hospital strains and wild strains, but no more. (hospital strains being harder to kill)
3. Wash your hands - he recommended soap or an alcohol-based hand cleanser, not a specific antibacterial soap
4. He doesn't believe that hospital precautions in the US (isolated room, new gowns and gloves for everyone going in) are as effective as UK procedures (can't remember them, sorry), and the US methods cost way more
5. Hospital floors are filthy - wear socks or slippers
6. Wash your hands
posted by plinth at 10:18 AM on January 4, 2007

I picked it up somewhere near the end of Army basic training. I have a lovely scar on my right elbow now where the final boil was sliced open and drained. And all the doctors and nurses I talked to informed me that, yes, it is fairly common.

posted by kavasa at 11:08 AM on January 4, 2007

My son experienced a MRSE infection about a year and a half ago. It was fairly scary, actually, given how quickly the infection developed and the level of concern and quarantine that was involved. Essentially, they had to open his hand and scrape the nastiness out. He came through it intact, thankfully.
The doctors and nurses kept talking about just how resistant staph had become to antibiotics and that we were lucky that he had contracted a strain that wasn't as resistant.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:38 AM on January 4, 2007

a pandemic refers to a situation with an unusually high prevalence of cases.

Not correct. An epidemic refers to a spike in incidence, not prevalence. A pandemic is an epidemic involving a very large geographic region, often the entire world (viz. the 1918 influenza pandemic).
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:22 PM on January 4, 2007

I've seen a lot of stories about the rising incidence of staph infection in recent years. That may be partly because I read the "Health" section of the papers and the NYTimes online, and may be because there has also been coverage in the gay press (some outbreaks in this cohort).

Currently 839 results in Google News...
posted by Robert Angelo at 1:53 PM on January 4, 2007

I interviewed a doctor briefly a few weeks ago about MRSA. He said, after recommending antibacterial handwashing, that showers were better than baths.

Gyms are hotbeds of the stuff these days, too.
posted by mdiskin at 6:45 PM on January 4, 2007

i think we're just paying more attention to MRSA. i suspect they've been around for awhile now. I've been hearing about MRSA for years.
posted by brandz at 8:55 PM on January 4, 2007

I had a rash on my foot about 2 months ago. Went to my nurse-practitioner, and she said it was staph, but she's told me I had a staph infection before, and she never cultured it. After it wouldn't clear up, I went to a doctor, who told me it could have been staph (there was nothing coming out of the sores to culture by that time) and put me on antibiotics, but also said it could have been exacerbated by dry skin. He said they see a lot of it in winter. In other words, I'm not sure I'd believe it's definitely staph unless they culture it.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:24 AM on January 5, 2007

I The Cleveland Browns have been battling staph infections in their players all season (which is more than they've been doing on the field.)
I tried to find a recent article but couldn't. They have had 4 or 5 players with staph infections this season.
posted by Jesco at 6:41 AM on January 6, 2007

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