Monday, June 8, 2009

MRSA Bacteria All Too Common in Nursing Homes

Staphylococci or “staph” are bacteria that live on the skin and in the nose, usually without causing harm. But a new type of staph has developed which is called MRSA. MRSA is a real concern, because it is a strain of staph that has proven to be resistant to several types of antibiotics. And recently, it was discovered that hospitals and nursing homes are breeding grounds for this dangerous bacteria -- particularly in the nursing home environment.

Bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics when antibiotics are overused. No where in the world of healthcare is antibiotic therapy used more frequently than with the elderly. It seems that for decades we blasted microbes with antibiotics even when our nursing home patients were in the midst of a virus-borne flu or cold. And the bugs adapted.

A new study by Queen’s University (Belfast, Ireland) has found that as many as 25% of nursing home patients in the UK carry this bacteria, and there is no reason to suggest hat the USA or other major countries would have any better results. The study is thought to be the largest of its kind; researchers took nose swabs from 1,111 residents and 553 staff.

Its authors say that the findings, which have been published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, highlight the need for infection control strategies to be given a higher priority in nursing homes. I would also say that this is a warning cry to healthcare providers to watch out for the overuse of antibiotics, as antibiotic resistant strains are appearing with great frequency.


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