MRSA Staph Infection Kills 23,000 A Year

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA staph infections, have been a growing problem for doctors and hospitals for years now — and the CDC says that 23,000 Americans die each year of the drug-resistant strain of bacteria.

MRSA staph infections present a frightening challenge to medicine — get the bug under control without making resistance to our most powerful antibiotics worse.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden didn’t mince words when he discussed the MRSA staph infection conundrum, and ABC quotes the doctor as admitting:

“If we’re not careful, the medicine chest will be empty.”

The news site explains that while facility-related MRSA is abating, community acquired MRSA — meaning the sort that infects people outside a clinical setting — is on the rise. The implications for both treatment and infection spread are worrying, and ABC adds:

“Serious, invasive MRSA declined in all settings for a total of 80,461 infections in 2011, the journal report found. Most were linked with health care in people who’d recently been hospitalized or received other medical treatment. But for the first time, the more than 16,000 infections picked up in community settings outnumbered the 14,000 infections that began in the hospital.”

Friedan addressed a recent study suggesting pig manure is responsible for some MRSA staph infections, and he said that while the results added to knowledge of the devastating infection, it’s not the key:

“Right now the most acute problem is in hospitals and the most resistant organisms are in hospitals.”

As MRSA staph infections continue to proliferate and resist treatment, doctors say that developing new drugs (to which MRSA is not yet resistant) and better, more responsible use of existing antibiotics are the best hope to keep the potentially deadly illness in check.