Stubborn germs are a growing health threat
Hawaii has seen a high number of cases involving a drug-resistant microbe.
A government study indicating that infections from a drug-resistant germ might be twice as common as previously thought is supported by an alarmingly high number of cases in Hawaii
The information emphasizes the need to rein in indiscriminate use of antibiotics and to find new ones to counter the germ called MRSA, which is believed responsible for 19,000 deaths and 94,000 serious infections each year, according to extrapolated data from nine cities and counties in the United States.
Because the study concluded that 85 percent of invasive MRSA infections are associated with health care treatment, it also underscores the need for hospitals and other medical facilities to guard more aggressively against its spread.
For the public, protection can be as simple as washing hands more often and thoroughly, keeping cuts clean and covered, and avoiding contact with other people's wounds.
The study by experts who work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not include Hawaii because the state Department of Health doesn't keep relevant data. However, Hawaii Health Information Corp., a private organization that collects and analyzes information, found that 2,112 hospitalized patients in Hawaii were diagnosed with MRSA last year and Alan Tice, a physician and University of Hawaii professor, said the state has twice the national average of infections.
Invasive MRSA doesn't just colonize on the skin, but attacks organs, such as the lungs. It has developed resistance to first-line antibiotics, a pattern seen in other infectious agents that cause tuberculosis, gonorrhea and childhood ear infections.
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