The primary purpose of this blog is to advise readers of significant updates to our Wisdom Tidbits website (temporarily mothballed, not available), as well as any important new postings on our other three related blogs, FluBits, DumBits, and AutBits.

So, this blog will mainly feature alerts regarding website updates as well as alerts to postings on our other blogs as they occur, so that you can check out this central blog at your leisure to more easily determine whats new within the vast realm of the WisBits website and our other blogs.

However, a secondary purpose of this blog, our main focal point for all of our resources, is to also provide a medium to present short news items here of important relevance that do not necessarily fit well within the scope of the main WisBits website or the other three blogs. Now, "fetch me my axe...".

Thursday, January 14, 2010

MRSA "Superbug" is now in Beach Sand, and Kills More People than AIDS

Subtitle: methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and methicillin resistant coagulase-negative Staphylococcus "superbugs" now found on public beaches

Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, aka MRSA, is a "superbug" deviation of the common staph infection. Note that MRSA has evolved to be resistant to the antibiotic methicillin, hence "resistant", and is generally said to be untreatable.

MRSA arose from the germ, bacteria, and viral incubators of hospitals, where antibiotics were overused to prevent and treat it. But in recent years it has escaped health care facilities and has evolved to the point that it now has the ability to infect even healthy people and is very lethal. It is important to note that MRSA now kills more people in the United States than AIDS.

Researchers in Washington state recently tested ten nearby public beaches in the Puget Sound area and found thirteen different varieties of staph bacteria at nine of the beaches, seven of which were resistant to treatment. Five of these MRSA samples were "highly similar" to those found in hospitals.

The inference was made, albeit very lightly, that "Some form of contamination was responsible for the presence of the bacteria. Where all of these organisms are coming from and how they're getting seeded on the beaches is not clear." The word "seeded" in the prior sentence gives rise to speculation - did they mean to imply like "Johnny Appleseed" where someone is going around and tossing the bacteria to and fro? Also, another report indicated that the MRSA contamination likely entered the beaches through "environmental contamination". We minimally interpret the underlying implication was that MRSA was "escaping" health care facilities and was being washed out to sea, although we wonder if the MRSA was being spread by some other means, since the only medically recommended treatment is a drug, altho confoundingly MRSA is said to be "drug resistant". The inference was also made that the presence of the bacteria proves to be much higher than previously suspected.

Note that a study was performed, believe it or not, on how staph bacterial infections were contracted from beaches, and that those that dug in the sand or were covered with sand had a higher incidence of infection than those that walked or lay on the beach. No information was provided on those that bathed in ocean water, although we are aware that ocean waters in highly populated areas tend to have a higher amount of bacteria and that staph thrives in salty environments. Additionally, those with cuts, abrasions, or sores were said to be the most susceptible to contracting MRSA or staph from exposure to bacteria at the beach.

It is obvious to conclude that anyone with skin breakages should avoid the beach, and everyone else should thoroughly "disinfect" afterwards. Note that altho regular testing of ocean water at the beach is (or should be) performed to determine the levels of bacterial contaminants, that the accuracy of the reported results should be highly suspect if any tourism is involved. Also note that we are unaware of similar testing of beach sand, but have noted that sand on most all beaches in populated areas is said to be tainted with bacteria.

Below are links to two sources of info on MRSA at the beach.

MRSA in layperson terms from USA Today.

MRSA in more technical terms from the American Journal of Epidemiology.

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