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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Super Germs: I Welcome the Sweet Release!

This is what happens when you prescribe antibiotics for everything from a hang nail, to hay fever, to everything in between.

We were warned, and now the weak amongst us are all going to die. Best part, socialized medicine won't save us one bit!

A dangerous germ that has been spreading around the country causes more life-threatening infections than public health authorities had thought and is killing more people in the United States each year than the AIDS virus, federal health officials reported today.

The microbe, a strain of a once innocuous staph bacterium that has become invulnerable to first-line antibiotics, is responsible for more than 94,000 serious infections and nearly 19,000 deaths each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calculated.

Although evidence has been mounting that the infection is becoming more common, the estimate published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association marks the first national assessment of the toll from the insidious pathogen, officials said.

"This is the first study that's been able to capture the data in a comprehensive fashion," said Scott K. Fridkin, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC. "This is a significant public health problem. We should be very worried."

Other researchers noted that the estimate includes only the most serious infections caused by the bug, known as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.

"It's really just the tip of the iceberg," said Elizabeth A. Bancroft, a medical epidemiologist at the Los Angeles Department of Public Health who wrote an editorial accompanying the new research. "It is astounding."

The estimate is being published with a report that a strain of another bacterium, which causes common ear infections in children, has become impervious to every antibiotic approved for youngsters.

"Taken together, what these two papers show is that we're increasingly facing antibiotic resistant forms of these very common organisms," Bancroft said. "We really need to be on guard against these emerging organisms."

Penicillin was indeed wonder mold. Too bad it didn't evolve faster than the germs it was over-prescribed to stop.

(Was that too alarmist? I feel like I'm trying to sell the next Dateline NBC.)

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