While taking a flu break, a MRSA round-up

Constant readers, the H1N1 (Virus Formerly Known as Swine) Flu story remains a bit intense. I’ve missed a few MRSA stories over the past few days, so here is a round-up.

First, though, if you’re curious about what the swine flu reaction says about our ability to handle a pandemic, you might take a look at this story I wrote Friday at CIDRAP. Quick version: Over-reaction on the part of the “worried well” — and people seeking testing and not knowing where to get it — put ERs into meltdown nationwide. If we were facing a virus that was not only fast-spreading but virulent, we could be in serious trouble.

On to MRSA:

  • Therapy animals as a vector: In a letter to the Journal of Hospital Infection, Drs. J. Scott Weese and Sandra L. Lefebvre of the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph report on two therapy dogs that became transiently colonized with C. difficile (on its paw pads) and MRSA (on its coat; found on the hands of its handler) after visiting health care facilities, demonstrating how easily bacteria can move in and out of hospitals. Constant readers will recognize Weese’s name: He is one of the most important investigators of MRSA in food animals and pets, and among other things has written infection-control guidelines for therapy animals.
  • In the Canadan Medical Association Journal, Drs. Anne G. Matlow and Shaun K. Morris of the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children caution that while hospitals may be getting better at infection control, there is not yet as much attention to it as there should be in ambulatory-care settings: urgent care centers, surgery centers and doctors’ offices. They offer a checklist of the minimal things that a physician practice should do.
  • And in the UK, Baroness Masham of Ilton, a member of the House of Lords, offers her online notes on serious infections with community MRSA, which the Brits are calling PVL-MRSA in recognition of the toxin that the strain produces. The notes are in advance of a series of questions that she intends to pose to government ministers during a Question Time on Wednesday.

More soon.


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