Study: Superbugs Emerge Among Urban Poor

CHICAGO (AP) – Drug-resistant staph infections have spread to the urban poor, rising almost seven-fold in recent years in some Chicago neighborhoods, a new study finds.

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.”
—Matthew 24:7

Researchers said the crowded living conditions of public housing and jails may speed up the person-to-person spread of infection.
The superbugs, first seen mainly in hospitals and nursing homes, have turned up recently among athletes, prisoners and people who get illegal tattoos.
Called methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, these staph germs can cause skin infections that in rare cases have led to pneumonia, bloodstream infections and a painful, flesh-destroying condition. MRSA is hard to treat because the bacteria have developed resistance to the penicillin drug family.
From 2000 to 2005, the infection rate seen in patients seeking care at Chicago’s main public hospital and its affiliated clinics climbed from 24 cases per 100,000 to 164 cases per 100,000, the study found.
Dr. Bala Hota of Chicago’s Stroger Hospital, a lead author of the study, said the increase is similar to that seen in other cities.
Public housing could be a bridge between high-risk people, the researchers wrote in their study, which appears in Monday’s Archives of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Susan Gerber of Chicago’s Department of Public Health said it would be a mistake to assume the infection isn’t also in affluent neighborhoods. The study looked only at people using the public hospital system. The infection rate in the general population is unknown.
“This is an equal opportunity bacteria,” Gerber said.
To prevent staph’s spread, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitizer, keeping cuts clean and covered with a clean bandage until healed, avoiding contact with other people’s wounds and bandages and avoiding shared personal items such as towels and razors.

  1. Steve, 29 May, 2007

    I wrote this last year looks like the problme is moveing across the country

    What You Do Not See Will Hurt You
    Steven L. Doran 2006

    For almost my whole career, I worked in high stress, high risk occupations. After I ended my time in the field I began to train others, in self defense, close quarter combat and high risk investigations. However what we seem to forget is the biggest threat to personal safety is what we can not see. During my career in Law enforcement, as a government contractor and the military I have seen more persons taken out of action, not by bullets, knives or perpetrated attacks, but by infections and disease. The individual has no idea they have been infected until the problem is so severe it takes then months to recuperate, some are even fatal.

    Most of the persons in our business make contact with the general public on a daily basis as part of their job description, they travel to location outside of their homes and offices. There are several new strains of infectious disease out there like methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aurous, commonly known as the scourge of skid row. It is attacking dozens of police officers, firefighters, health-care workers and with persons who come in contact with other persons, or locations where the residents or patrons who use those facilities hygiene habits are below reasonable standards.

    A lot of us get sent to these areas and work in a dirty environment on a daily basis with people who don’t practice good hygiene. After we finish our assignments we enter our vehicles, touch the steering wheel, go back to our home, or office and uses common facilities and equipment that poses a threat to our families and co-workers.

    This is a problem seldom discussed with employees. In order to protect ourselves, our families and coworkers we must maintain vigilance in using products on our hands which kill such bacteria. Further I make it a point after entering people’s homes or when working in bad areas where I have to come in contact with a potential threat to immediately, come home, put my clothing in the wash, and hit the shower before writing reports making contact with others, eating food etc. Keeping yourself safe is more than looking for bad guys in today’s day and age it is the unseen forces at work that are more likely to take you out of the game.

    The point really hit home although it is an unrelated situation. I went to visit an individual to take his statement who was a younger healthy athletic type individual. He was now wheel chair bound and his lower limbs almost looked gangrenous. When I asked him what had occurred? He stated that he was a heavy equipment operator. He was working in an area that was heavily laden with mosquitoes. He did not think much of it until he had already been sent to another area on a different assignment. That is when he noticed something was wrong. He had contracted the West Nile Virus from a mosquito bite. The virus attacked the muscles in his legs and he was now in a wheel chair, and it is unknown if he will ever walk again. He considered himself lucky he was still alive. If he had been older and out of shape it would have killed him.

    It is not that we need to be paranoid. But we do work in sometimes less than desirable environments. We need to use the same common sense approach we do when we are looking out for our personal safety. Do not assume that your constitution will not allow you to contract a disease, infection or illness. And if you are felling extremely unusual see a doctor.

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