posted on Dec, 5 2012 @ 04:08 AM
People in this thread are talking about this like it's some kind of conspiracy - it's not. Well, it is. I mean, MRSA arose because of cutbacks to
hospital cleaning staff to save money, less time to clean wards means less thorough bleaching of everything (bleach kills everything, but you can't
just give someone a cup of bleach when they have MRSA), more things survive, chances of resistant bacteria surviving increase and so on.
The reason MRSA and more recently, VRSA (which I believe is the most recent strain, but the last time I did any research on this was just over a year
or so ago) is a problem is that we can't kill it when it infects a person. We can kill it outside of the body as I said, with bleach or whatever
bleach like substance hospitals use, but it is a colony of bacteria which has become resistant to antibiotics which are safe for humans.
We have several different types of antibiotics, unfortunately we've hit a stumbling block in terms of discovering new ones in the last decade or so.
We have a few types which are slightly toxic to humans and are used as a last resort under close supervision in hospitals, but it's hard to make the
doctors break them out because if things become resistant to those... We're in trouble.
Anyway, we have several different chemicals called antibiotics which can be used to kill bacteria. Let's just imagine for a minute that we have a
strain of bacteria and it's vulnerable to all types of antibiotic. Here's how it becomes an unkillable monster:
(Actually I got half way though explaining vertical plasmid transmission before I realised I'll have to give you a quick rundown on bacterial DNA
first. They are made up of the same genetic stuff as us really, and have DNA without a nucleus stored in the cytoplasm of a cell whereas our DNA is
stored in a nucleus in the cytoplasm, this makes bacteria more prone to genetic mutation etc etc, this isn't really important. What IS important is
the genetic material in a bacterium which is completely separate from the chromosomal DNA - these separate structures are called plasmids, small ring
structures just floating in the bacterial cell like, well, a bacterium floating in our cells! These plasmids each do something incredibly specific,
like plasmid a1 cause the production of a chemical which negates antibiotic a, while plasmid b1 will cause the production of a chemical which negates
antibiotic b. Plasmids can replicate themselves independently of the host cell, which means a single bacterium with plasmid a1 can transfer a copy of
that plasmid to every bacterium, even ones of another species, within range. This is called horizontal transfer. It also means that each offspring of
the bacterium can have a copy of the plasmid, this is called vertical transfer. That should be enough background info to get the rest of the post.)
- Bacterial colony 1 is present and unwanted, humans decide to kill it by administering antibiotics.
- The humans administer the antibiotic a, and kill 99% of the colony 1. The remaining 1% of 1 are more resistant to antibiotic a due to the presence
of plasmid a1.
- The antibiotic is withdrawn and the 1% manage to reform a massive colony which is resistant to a. They also pass the plasmid to other species of
bacteria in your body which the antibiotic does not kill because they're "good" bacteria.
- Antibiotic b is introduced while the patient x is told off by his doctor for not finishing the course of antibiotics as instructed because he felt
better half way through.
- X finishes the course of b properly, the colony 1 is destroyed. However, a will never again be useful to X because of the widespread presence of a1
throughout his body.
This happens regularly, and recently we've had the brilliant idea of trying to prescribe the same antibiotic to everyone nationally at the same time
in order to prolong their effectiveness, i.e.plasmids for y and z are not widespread because they haven't been used much.
VRSA is a strain of staph which has multiple resistances because of the above mentioned process. It happened because people didn't do as they were
told by their doctors and because doctors didn't think through their prescriptions properly. That's all changed now, it's harder to get
antibiotics, and systems are in place to make each type last longer.
MRSA is relatively under control, you may have it on you right now, which is why you are now swabbed in the nose and crotch before surgery. It can be
killed easily when on the skin with some rubbing alcohol.
All in all, there are much much bigger medical crises facing us, MRSA is a bug we let get out of hand and now we're seeing the results, but they're
not something we need to flip out over.