Medical Minute: Killer Infection: MRSA

Posted 3/14 at 6:15pm

Anne Matthews was thrilled when doctors told her she delivered a healthy baby boy, but that joy turned to panic after they discovered Cameron had a staph infection on his spine.

"My husband and I both cried a little while over it. Just prayed. It's the worst thing you want to hear when you have a new baby."

Doctors saved Cameron with the strongest antibiotic available, but others haven't been as lucky. MRSA infections are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics as a new, more potent strain emerges outside the hospital, especially among athletes who come in close contact.

"It hits healthy people. It actually seems to be much more virulent, and it can produce toxins and actually make people very sick, very quickly."

That's why scientists are developing a vaccine to stop MRSA in its tracks. In one study, Staphvax appeared to protect 94 percent of people. Another study wasn't as promising, but doctors hope to perfect it, ideally by wiping out staph bacteria that normally live in the nose.

"Staph is like an M&M candy. What StaphVAX targets is components of that shell."

But until a vaccine is widely available: wash hands often. Don't share towels or other personal items. Look out for signs of infection, like redness, swelling, and warmth.

And while antibiotics still sometimes work, doctors hope a vaccine will wipe out this potential killer for good.

For more info:

John Howser
(615) 322-4774

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