Wednesday, November 7, 2007

And yet more about MRSA...

On page A21 of today's WSJ was a group of follow-up letters to "Attack of the Superbugs" (see Oct. 30 entries). As usual, I shall excerpt from the valuable opinions of a Ph.D. and an M.D., respectively. Emphasis mine.

According to the Ph.D., Betsy McCaughey: "Recent studies at Rush Medical College in Chicago and Boston University in Massachusetts show that training cleaners not to overlook surfaces and to allow detergents to remain on surfaces for at least three minutes, rather than just giving a quick spray and wipe, can curb the spread of germs from patient to patient." Primarily, she chides Gottlieb (author of the original article) about the underrepresentation of preventative measures.

Bernard M. Churchill, M.D., adds a few useful pointers to extend the scope of the already good article, namely:
  • MRSA is not the only superbug! Even causal agents of urinary tract infections, for example, are becoming more and more resistant.
  • On "biofilm and nosacomial [sic] (hospital acquired) infections," Churchill casts an important light. Biofilms are essentially films made up of bacteria. You get them on your teeth if you don't brush--then they harden as plaque. However, there are more sinister biofilms--even MRSA can colonize a cathether, become a hard plaque, and spread over the intubation and into the body.
  • Good news! A NIH-funded study has discovered a rapid test that "can rapidly (under 30 minutes) identify uropathogens in clinical urine by using an electrochemical DNA biosensor"!! He describes it as working somewhat like a telephone, converting bacterial jabber into electrical pulses.
  • There is also another potential kind of antimicrobial: "Aganocides (developed by Nova Bay Pharmaceuticals) are based on small molecules generated by our own white cells that defend against invading pathogens. In the body these compounds are produced "on demand" and are transient." This is very cool. What could be better than using something based on the body's own defenses?

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