Ask the Doctor: MRSA Known As Supergerm
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: Will you please address the disease of MRSA?
I was diagnosed with it two months ago and was given special drugs to cure it. - M.M.
ANSWER: MRSA isn’t a disease. It’s a supergerm, a bacterium that’s resistant to many common antibiotics.
The acronym stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staph Aureus.
In the early years of antibiotics, the late 1940s and the 1950s, penicillin killed all staph bacteria.
Staph learned how to dodge penicillin.
Clever scientists made a few changes to penicillin and came up with methicillin, an improved penicillin that could kill staph.
Things were going along well, until staph discovered how to sidestep methicillin.
This is MRSA.
MRSA has spread far and wide.
It used to be confined to hospitals, but now it’s out in the general community.
Antibiotics exist that get rid of MRSA, but they are expensive and are held in reserve to foil staph’s adapting to them.