Thursday, October 18, 2007

Moral: wash your hands!

On page 3 of the first section of yesterday's Chicago Tribune: "Superbug deaths may top AIDS" by Judith Graham.

This article surveys the wide range and scariness of MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. Let's just say it's a bacterium too powerful to be quashed by normal antibiotics...and it's also a lot more powerful than the kind that is not so drug-resistant. Some heartening (or not) facts:

* "This year, Illinois became the first state in the nation to require hospitals to report infection rates, test patients in intensive-care units for the bacteria and to take specific measures to prevent its spread."
* "African-Americans may be more vulnerable because they have higher rates of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, which require more visits to health-care providers, [R. Monina] Klevens said. Infected individuals may then unwittingly spread the bacteria to other household members." I'm sure that some overactive anti-conservative will take this as 'racial discrimination,' but it's actually called a 'fact' or 'statistic.'
* According to the AMA, a frightening quarter (26.6%) of nearly 9,000 cases of MRSA in several U.S. states began in hospitals.

This article has two morals: one, wash your hands with soap and water (the single best way to get germs off) before your hands even approach your mouth; two, get whoever takes care of you in a hospital or otherwise to wash their hands before doing such things as using a stethoscope, taking your temperature, etc.

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