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Reported November 29, 2011

Unstoppable Superbugs: MRSA & More

SAN FRANCISCO (Ivanhoe Newswire) --Antibiotics... 190 million doses are administered in hospitals every day. But what happens when your body becomes so used to the drugs it can no longer fight off serious or even simple infections? Find out why a reckless use of antibiotics may be behind a growing public health threat inside our nation’s hospital.

Seven year old Bryce has a healthy imagination.

“I want dinosaurs to be alive,” Bryce Smith told Ivanhoe.

And a love for dinosaurs.

 “Tyrannosaurus Rex! That is this,” Bryce explained.

But the fact that he’s healthy, or even here, is a dream come true for his parents. One that began with their worst nightmare.

“It just happened to be his immune system was down when he touched something,” Katie Smith, Bryce’s Mom, told Ivanhoe.

Doctors first diagnosed the then 14-month old with the flu… then pneumonia, but when his persistent cough and rapid breathing prompted a trip to the ER, an X-ray revealed something no one expected.

“MRSA had actually eaten a hole through his lung,” Katie said.

Community acquired, antibiotic-resistant MRSA. No one knows how he got it. But, Bryce spent 40 days in a coma—fighting for his life.

“To see a little baby with five chest tubes coming out of him... It’s just something you never want to go through,” Scott smith, Bryce’s dad told Ivanhoe.

Doctors say while overall cases of MRSA are down, other hospital-acquired bugs are increasing.

"Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, Klebsiella, those are the three worst players right now. We’re running out of stuff to throw at them. We're seeing infections we can't treat with any antibiotics. This hasn't been true since 1935,” Brad Spellberg, M.D., an Associate Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA told Ivanhoe.

Experts say the resistance is caused by overuse, or misuse of antibiotics. Dr. Spellberg says the best ways to fight them is through better practices

“Basic infection control practices. Wash your hands, cook your food, live a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Spellberg said.

And better policy.

“Find out where the infections are occurring,” Dr. Spellberg added.

For the Smiths, Bryce’s brush with death is now just a memory.

“I don’t think anything stops him,  he’s such a good kid,” Scott said.

A healthy boy and big brother who’s everything they could have dreamed.

Dr. Spellberg says 80 percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S actually go to feed livestock which can lead to resistance in humans. He hopes the government will focus more on limiting that antibiotic use first. And you may want to think twice about not finishing your prescription. Experts say the resistant bacteria can also emerge when patients don’t take the full course of their prescribed antibiotics.

For additional research on this article, click here.

Sign up for a free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs called First to Know by clicking here.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marsha Hitchcock at mhitchcock@ivanhoe.com.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Brad Spellberg , MD
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
 (310) 794-8171

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