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MRSA - Serious Bacterial Infection

Updated on April 6, 2018
Pamela99 profile image

After 22 years as a RN, I have been writing about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise and life style are all important.

Super Bug

Photo Courtesy of New Yorker
Photo Courtesy of New Yorker

MRSA Infection Becoming More Prevalent

Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus, better known as MRSA, is a bacterial infection that is very contagious and very serious. The initial MRSA antibiotics used to treat these bacteria are no longer working in many cases, as the bacteria have become more resistant.

These problems are not only related to needed antibiotics for MRSA, but also for Klebsiella pneumoniae and other bacteria. This is a serious problem as 90,000 of annual deaths in hospitals happen due to infection, with 70% being caused by bacteria resistant to at least one drug.

These types of infections are typically picked up when you are hospitalized, as that is where bugs live despite the cleaning effort of the staff, particularly with bleach which is one of the few products that actually kill these types of bacteria. Infection control is extremely important in hospitals.

The other aspect is these bugs attack when you are at your weakest point, for instance, after a major surgery, of if you have a disease such as HIV, or are immune suppressed due to chemotherapy for cancer or dozens of autoimmune diseases being treated with chemotherapy.

It is now possible to get MRSA almost anywhere. You have to be very careful with sports equipment if you have a child that plays on a team. Also, avoid anyone that you know is ill until they have completely recovered.

Drug Resistance Chart

Photo Courtesy of Jacksonville Times Union paper
Photo Courtesy of Jacksonville Times Union paper

Too Many Antibiotics Prescribed

We are really in this crisis more so because of the overabundance of antibiotics prescribed when patients demand them for illnesses that can’t be cured with antibiotics, such as viruses, coughs and colds. This has triggered bacteria to evolve and become resistant to the antibiotics.

Bacteria can evolve, or gain resistance in two ways:

  • By mutation
  • By using a built in feature to sway DNA (known as horizontal gene transfer) –bacteria share gene resistance

Over the Counter Antibiotics

London has done something interesting that at first glance might seem to increase the problem. A person can get over the counter Azithromycin for a positive Chlamydia test by sending in a mail order culture.

You might think that over the counter would increase antibiotic abuse, however, the person has to have a positive result to buy the medication. So, there is no doctor visit involved, and no one is receiving the drug that isn’t positive with the bacteria.

MRSA Infection Myths and Truths

Drug Companies vs FDA

The other aspect of this problem is drug companies are abandoning the antibiotic business stating the high development costs, the low return on their investments and due to the decade of being in a stalemate with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The very scary part of this problem is revealed in a survey conducted by UCLA which concluded the FDA’s approval of new antibiotic agents developed over the past 20 years has decreased by 56%. It seems some of our best top researchers are no longer looking for these important answers. The result of this has been that Eli Lilly, Abbott Labs and the former Squibb have pulled out of antibiotic research.

Doctors fear we will soon be defenseless in treating these bacterial diseases. The FDA wants the drug companies to run much more stringent clinical trials. There have been some approved antibiotics that have not worked out well, such as the antibiotic Ketek (a medication used to treat pneumonia but causes stomach and liver problems more than expected). The doctor on the study actually went to jail for falsifying data in the study.

The drug companies still state that the new rules will make it so difficult and expensive to gain approval for new antibiotics that only a few remaining companies will continue this work. Over the past two years there have been 9 meetings between the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry scientists and physicians without agreeing on anything besides the desperate need for new drugs.

For many years antibiotics were approved based in clinical trials that didn’t have to show the drug was any better than an old one. It just had to fall into an acceptable margin of efficacy, which might mean it was not an improvement but could still be considered a success. The FDA wants the margins for these new drugs to be scientifically justified, which sounds very reasonable. It is a complex situation because if the definition of success is too loose you might not be measuring efficacy at all.

The newest proposal by the FDA proposes that antibiotics that are meant to treat non-lethal infections which often resolve on their own, such as sinusitis, ear infections and bronchitis be tested under different methods, using double blind studies that involve placebos. However, I wouldn't particularly want to be the one receiving the placebo. Physicians are to use new antibiotics sparingly to prevent further evolution of bacteria.

Hospitalized Patient


MRSA with No Effective Treatment

If we don’t have effective antibiotic the whole medical system doesn’t work. As an example, I will use my mother’s situation. She had a severely fractured ankle many years ago that started giving away, and the orthopedic doctor said he should operate to actually replace the ankle.

After the surgery he stated that procedure would have been too risky for her, and he just used screws, etc. to hold the ankle together which should have still given her a decent result. However, the bandage placed over the lower leg and ankle had a cast type back with ace wrap used to wrap the leg and foot. The ace wrap moved around and ultimately opened up both of the suture lines.

She developed MRSA in her incision, then in the bone and the tissue wasted away, despite receiving every known antibiotic. She was in and out of the hospitals, nursing homes plus sometimes stayed with me for a whole year before we finally gave up and let them amputate below the knee. The incision was so open before surgery I could see the bone of her foot. This was the worse year of her and my life.

However, the amputation was finally the beginning of her recovery, and she moved in with my husband and me. She has learned to walk with a prosthesis quite well, not that it has been simple, and also uses a cane for extra assurance, which is pretty good for a lady of 86 years old. She is not a diabetic, but somebody didn’t wash their hands or do a clean dressing change for her to have received that infection.


I would like to end this hub with how important it is to protect yourself and your family from Methicillin Reasistent Staph Aureus.

Wash your hands every time you come home from anywhere. Use clean wipes on the grocery cart as they are loaded with germs. Make sure your children wash their hands when they arrive home from school or the playground.

If you are a patient in the hospital, do not let anyone touch you if you don’t see them clean their hands first, and that includes the doctor. Remember you are paying them.

Be an advocate for good health. Wash fresh vegetable and fruit thoroughly beside the fact they may have dirt, or pest control products, they has also been handled by other people. Cover your mouth when you sneeze and use a tissue. If you see someone in a store that appears ill, stay away from them. These are all common sense small things that may save your life. Be aware of your surroundings.

The copyright, renewed in 2018, for this article is owned by Pamela Oglesby. Permission to republish this article in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.


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  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Nancy, It is contagious and takes a strong antibiotic to get rid of it. I have not know of it having a connection with insect bites except that if he is scratching a lot then he has an open wound. Hopefully it is something milder. Thanks for your comments.

  • nancy_30 profile image

    nancy_30 7 years ago from Georgia

    Thank you for this very informative hub. I think this is what my nephew has. Every summer if he gets an insect bite and scratches it he breaks out in bumps that look like blisters. When he does break out my sister keeps him at home and away from other people because it's very contagious.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    I hope our brother in law made a good recovery as this can be so serious. Thanks for your comments. I have several medical hubs I have written over a period of time but I will continue to do so.

  • My Mother's Child profile image

    My Mother's Child 7 years ago from Southern United States of America

    My brother-in-law (at the time) developed this after falling of his boat dock and scratching his arm on the deck of the dock as he was getting out of the lake. What a horrible experience for all of us! Thanks for helping get the information out via your hub. I look forward to reading more of your medical related hubs.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Opinion Duck, I absolutely agree with you and physician should receive some training in Eastern medicine. I have had several diseases and all the treatment is to lessen the symptoms but they never can actually treat the disease. It's very frustrating. Thanks for your comments.

  • OpinionDuck profile image

    OpinionDuck 7 years ago


    I agree with you, and I would go further and suggest we go for cures, instead of treatments.

    Treatment today is knee jerk write a prescription instead of understanding the root cause of the patient's malady.

    Western medicine refuses to embrace holistic methods, yet they are in the dark ages themselves.

    Antibiotics are given as you say in many cases where they even know that it won't help the patient. Why, because they don't understand the root of the malady.

    It is the shotgun approach to trying to solve a medical problem.


  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Dallas, Yes, hospitals could do a better job. Thanks for your comment.

  • dallas93444 profile image

    Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

    Great comments. Informative and thought provoking hub. Too bad hospitals are a source of infections...

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Helo, That is something to celebrate. thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

    When I went into hospital for these tests they took swaps off me if I had MRSA. I was pleased about that and more so that I was clear.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Audrey, You must do medical transcription which I did for a period of time after I couldn't work at nursing anymore. Anyway, yes it is scary and I appreciate you comment.

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

    Frightening stuff, Pamela - and I do reports on this all day long every day. VERY frightening to know it is becoming resistant!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Support Med, I think there are some companies still working on antibiotic, just not a few of the larger ones. I agree with your comments and I have always pushed my patients when I was a nurse to be advocated for their care. Thanks for your comments.

  • Support Med. profile image

    Support Med. 7 years ago from Michigan

    Great hub! Sorry to hear about companies pulling out of the research business for new antibiotics. Maybe it's just time for the research to be taken up by new companies (or companies that are not 'new' but may not be as well known as others). I recently read where there is research being done concerning MRSA and possibly a new breakthrough will be coming soon. Universal Precautions, as you stated, are extremely important and I agree that all of us should become more involved in our own care. As patients, we need to be more communicative with our physicians. I do not believe patients should receive an antibiotic simply because they demand it if it is an illness which really does not warrant an antibiotic such as you mentioned above, viruses, cold and coughs (Maybe this helped to contribute to the problem). Voted/rated.

    PS: Thanks for the link!!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    Dobson, It is a scary thing, particularly when they are not developing new antibiotics to fight this resistant bacteria. Thanks for sharing your story and for the comments.

    Robert, Thank you for sharing your experience and I appreciate the comments.

  • Roberta99 profile image

    Roberta99 7 years ago

    Have a friend who is fighting MRSA in her foot and I have had experience with it. My heart goes out to all who have this infection. Excellent hub.

  • Dobson profile image

    Dobson 7 years ago from Virginia

    We had a family friend who fought MRSA for a while, then finally succumbed to lung cancer that may have been connected. This is a scary thing that is just beginning to be widely known. You have provided some great information.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    DiamondRB, It seems like the drug companies always change a fortune for new medications but with the FDA new standards I guess the research times would really increase and cost them more than they think is worthwhile. It is a bad situation.

    K9Keystrokes, I am glad you enjoyed he hub and thanks for your comments.

    dayoulady, It may very well have been unless she got bitten my a brown recluse spider as those bites are really serious. Thanks for your comment.

  • bayoulady profile image

    bayoulady 7 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA

    pamela,This is an excellently written piece and your explanations were easy to understand.

    I had a friend in 1996 that jabbed her left thumb into a rosebush in the morning . The next afternoon , she was in the hospital. Her thumb and part of the tissue in the palm were amputated within a few days. After reading your hub, I wonder if it wasn't MRSA.

  • K9keystrokes profile image

    India Arnold 7 years ago from Northern, California

    This is one nasty bug Pam! The antibiotics we take may be causing such rapid evolution in these critters. We need to really take a good look at our future. Super hub, thanks!


  • DiamondRN profile image

    Bob Diamond RPh 7 years ago from Charlotte, NC USA

    There are no new antibiotics in the pipeline that I'm aware of. There's just not enough money in antibiotics for the drug companies to spur the needed research like there is in diabetes, cardiovascular and nerve meds.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

    I think you summed it up about right Tom. The future is not bight in this area. Thanks for your comment.

  • Tom Whitworth profile image

    Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV


    Great Hub from which I draw these conclusions:

    1. Don't go near a hospital unless you're dying.

    2. It's very tough to get approval for new antibiotics.

    My final conclusion based partly on your Hub is after Obamacare is in force it won't matter anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!