There was a time when being admitted to an NHS hospital a relatively safe enterprise, all things being considered. The highest quality healthcare professionals would be on hand to ensure the patient received excellent care and had a speedy recovery.
However, in recent years, being admitted to hospital is a risk in itself. The MRSA superbug seems to be evolving faster than the NHS Facilities Management’s Cleaning Methods. Last week there were reports of another new strain of MRSA on the wards of our public hospitals.
This new strain of MRSA can lead to a flesh-eating form of pneumonia, which is a particularly horrific disease. There was widespread panic during the 1994 when a flesh eating disease was inflicting people from all walks of life, and it appears that a similar virus is appearing again.
However, this strain is different, in that it is not usually contracted in hospitals, but in the community, often by casual contact. This means that even people with private health insurance are at risk – poor hygiene in the National Health Service cannot be held to blame.
It has been suggested that members of the gay community are more prone to catch the disease, which has been named methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus – is resistant to treatment by many front-line antibiotics.
It causes large boils on the skin, and in severe cases can lead to fatal blood poisoning or necrotising pneumonia, which eats away at the lungs.
Professor Mark Enright, from Imperial College and St Mary’s Hospital, London, Britain’s leading authority on MRSA, said:
“It’s quite surprising that the figures are so high. We do know that the USA300 strain is extremely good at spreading between people through skin-to-skin contact. The main reservoir for this infection is gay men, drug users, and those involved in contact sports, like wrestling. Having lots of sexual partners and making skin contact with a large number of different people helps the infection to spread. In the US it is already moving into the wider community.”
The martial arts community should be aware of this disease, as it has the potential to spread within dojos where there is an emphasis on grappling and wrestling styles, especially in MMA (mixed martial arts) clubs.
Roger Pebody, of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said:
“This is not the new HIV. What we are seeing is the emergence of an infection that can be passed on through close skin to skin contact, including sex. It is worrying that one in ten of the American cases are resistant to antibiotics, but most cases are treatable.”
Source: BBC Health News