The Spread of Superbugs

superbugs on the riseThe U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just published a first-of-its-kind assessment of the threat the country faces from antibiotic-resistant organisms.

And the news is not good.  In fact it’s downright scary. The agency’s overall conservative assessment of the problem includes frightening statistics such as:

  • Each year, in the U.S., 2,049,442 illnesses caused by bacteria and fungi that are resistant to at least some classes of antibiotics
  • Each year, out of those illnesses, there are 23,000 deaths
  • Each year, those illnesses and deaths result in $20 billion of additional healthcare spending
  • Each year, an additional $35 billion lost to society in foregone productivity.

The report marks the first time the agency has provided hard numbers for the incidence, deaths and cost of all the major resistant organisms. It also represents the first time the CDC has ranked resistant organisms by how much and how imminent a threat they pose, using seven criteria:

  • health impact
  • economic impact
  • how common the infection is
  • how easily it spreads
  • how much further it might spread in the next 10 years
  • whether there are antibiotics that still work against it
  • whether things other than administering antibiotics can be done to curb its spread

antibiotic resistant bacteriaOut of that matrix, their top three “urgent” threats they identified were:

multi-drug-resistant-pseudomonas-aeruginosa-horizontal-galleryIn addition, the CDC identified 12 resistant bacteria and fungal infections which the agency dubs “serious” i.e., requiring “prompt and sustained action.”  They include the hospital-acquired infections  Acinetobacter, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Vancomycin-Resistant Enterococcus (VRE) ; the foodborne organisms CampylobacterSalmonella and Shigella; MRSACandida and TB.

The last category, “concerning” i.e., requiring “careful monitoring and prevention” includes rare but potent vancomycin-resistant staphylococcus aureus  (VRSA), as well as strains of streptococcus resistant to two different categories of drugs.

For each organism, the report explains why it is a public health threat, where the trends are headed, what actions the CDC is taking, and what it is important for health care institutions, patients and their families, and states and local authorities to do to help.

Commenting on the report, Ed Septimus MD, professor of internal medicine at Texas A&M Health Sciences Center in Houston says “It’s up to us to make the recommendations in this report happen. If we do nothing but say, ‘Here’s the problem,’ then the problem will continue to grow.”

Well said Doctor, well said.

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A Day of Celebration and Remembrance

mlk_day_2013_handson_logo_3Monday January 21, 2013.  A Day that will go down in history.

Millions of Americans will come together today in a national day of service, dialogue and observance to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King had a dream that one day all people would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as called for in the Declaration of Independence. Dr. King called for social justice and opportunity. He asked that we bridge differences and come together in unity.  With the election over and in the aftermath of a year of significant weather events and senseless tragedies, today provides a unique opportunity to unite Americans in volunteer service. Let’s  do what we, as Americans, do best – lend a hand, help our neighbors and build better communities.

inauguration 2013Millions more, in America and beyond will watch as America swears in its 57th President.  But before the pomp and ceremony begins, the Obama family’s will kick off with the President asking Americans across the country to organize and participate in service projects in their communities to honor our shared values and celebrate the legacy of Dr. King. The Obama’s are driven by the basic values that make our country great and will remind us that hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded, and when everyone—from Main Street to Wall Street—does their fair share and plays by the same rules.

monica-lewinskyBut while the Obama’s celebrate, a certain past president may want to forget all about Jan 21. For it was that day, in 1998  that news of the Lewinsky/Clinton affair was  published. Although President Clinton vigorously denied all allegations at the time, the history books will go on to tell a different story.

bobbitFour years earlier, history, of sorts, was also made when Lorena Bobbitt was found temporarily insane of chopping off her spouse, John Wayne Bobbitt‘s penis and tossing it into a field.  Incidentally, that particular field is less than one mile from my house and the surgeon who subsequently performed the reattachment is someone run into on a regular basis. Aside from that, the case gained worldwide notoriety for its shock value. But it also brought public attention to the subject of marital rapedomestic violence and the realization that men as well as women can be the victims of such violence.

Other notable January 21st events.

nude95

  • In 1986, 100 brave souls participated in a Nude Olympics race in 38 degrees F in Indiana.
  • In 1978, the Bee Gees “Saturday Night Fever” album went to #1, where it stayed for 24 weeks
  • Boeing 747In 1970, the Boeing 747 made its first commercial flight
  • In 1949, the first inaugural parade was televised
  • In 1908, New York City made it illegal for a woman to smoke in public
  • In 1903, the Wizard of Oz premiered, also in new York City
  • In 1799, the smallpox vaccine was introduced, which is kind of ironic given that on Jan 21, 1677, the first ever medical publication in America was a pamphlet on smallpox

And finally, on this day in 2010, SRxA’s Word on Health was founded. In three short years our readership has grown from 7 views per day to close to 1,000; for which we thank you immensely.

Whatever, you are doing today, we wish you a happy and healthy one.

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