Just What Is MRSA, The Drug-Resistant Staph? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/23/07-Tyler

Just What Is MRSA, The Drug-Resistant Staph?

It's causing fears all over the country, not just here in East Texas.  Just what is this resistant staph, MRSA, and why is it spreading so quickly?

Staph aureus is actually on each one of us.  It's a common bacteria that lives on everyone's skin, and in the nasal passages of 30 percent of Americans.  It didn't cause many big problems until it became a "superbug."

KLTV 7 Med Team Dr. Ed Dominguez is an infectious disease specialist.

"In hospital settings, we began to see this MRSA organism evolve.  It progresses faster than the older strain that we used to see," Dominguez said. 

It was first seen in the 1960s, and now more than half of Staph aureus infections are because of MRSA.  It's resistant to penicillin and related drugs.  But the rise in cases in healthy people is alarming.

"We worry about infection when there are four things present: redness, pain, there should be swelling, and there is usually increased heat," said Dominguez. 

It's vital to get treatment fast, because MRSA can spread to more than just skin.

Pneumonia, blood poisoning, organ failure, and untreated cases that have spread have a high death rate.

"If within 24-48 hours [a wound] turns red, and becomes painful -- all of these staph infections are very painful -- and it develops heat or you develop fever, that's the time to be seen," said Dominguez. 

The sooner, the better.

"There are other drugs that can treat MRSA if it's not too far along.  As for the epidemic, doctors say they can't put the genie back in the bottle. 

It's probably here to stay.   Dominguez says doctors all over the country are now much more careful about to whom they give antibiotics.  Most experts say overmedication in decades past probably created this drug-resistant "Superbug".

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