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February 28, 2006
To Your Health

Us science fiction buffs have been expecting it for years. Decades, even. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant 'bacterium' that threatens to blossom into an all-out plague.

For decades, the infections were found only in hospitals, where the constant use of different antibiotics, including the potent methicillin, made it resistant to many of the most powerful antibiotics.

In the last few years, it has emerged in gyms, jails, schools and just about anywhere bacteria can grow. It has become a simmering problem that is largely unknown by the general population.

"I would characterize it as widespread, and in some areas it is epidemic," said Jeff Hageman, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a coauthor of two studies on staph published last year.

Yes, right here in the USofA. So, you know, those of you accustomed to thinking of new and weird diseases as things that are happening "over there somehwhere" aren't off the hook.

To gauge the prevalence of the strain, researchers at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar analyzed skin infections that showed up in their emergency room. In 2002, methicillin-resistant staph caused 29% of those infections. Two years later, the rate was 64%.

Pay attention. This could kill you faster than global warming. This could kill you faster even than the War On Terror.

This is also why we need universal access to decent health care. Because the sicknesses of others are your problem.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:21 AM


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