Tag Archives: mrsa

Superbug: Member’s book about MRSA released

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA,” AHCJ member Maryn McKenna’s second book, has been released today. McKenna, a member of AHCJ’s board of directors, has written extensive primers about MRSA and avian and pandemic influenza for AHCJ members. She also will moderate a luncheon session, “Influenza! Lessons learned from a year of H1N1,” at Health Journalism 2010.

McKenna, an independent journalist who also wrote “Beating Back the Devil: On the Front Lines with the Disease Detectives of the Epidemic Intelligence ServiceBeating Back the Devil, was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air this morning to talk about methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Her Superbug blog keeps up with the latest news and developments about MRSA.

Transmitter tracks health-care workers’ washing

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Despite constant reminders and a high-level of industrywide awareness, studies indicate that less than half of American health care workers wash their hands as frequently as they ought to. This contributes to the health-care-associated infections that kill tens of thousands annually. Now, NPR’s Gigi Douban reports, one Alabama hospital has resorted to high-tech monitoring devices to keep tabs on the handwashing practices of its employees.

washing
Photo by Arlington County via Flickr.

Workers wear a special wireless transmitter, from which, Douban writes, “the hospital can tell when she entered a patient’s room, whether she washed her hands and whether she washed again on the way out. The information is sent to hospital officials, including the CEO.”

“If they’re habitually not complying, we can send them an e-mail or send them a text message, something that goes to them personally,” says Harvey Nix, CEO of Proventix, the company that developed the monitoring system at Baptist Princeton.

According to Douban, the CDC is currently investigating the effects of the technology upon the behavior of health workers.

AP looks at drug resistance worldwide

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Associated Press has neatly wrapped up its wide-ranging look at drug resistance and the threat it poses to global health into a flash-based multimedia presentation. The presentation consists of stories, infographics, videos and a photo/audio slideshow.

The two videos explain drug-resistant strains of various infectious diseases. The first looks at the wide availability of powerful antibiotics without guidance or prescription, addresses the problem as it has emerged both in the United States and in locales like Mexico and the Philippines. The second, which is about the use of antibiotics in large-scale livestock operations, relies on just one source, Dr. Craig Rowles of Elite Pork Partnership.

The AP uses infographics to establish the spread and scope of the problem, relying heavily on various world maps. I particularly like the timeline that accompanies the malaria graphic (click “statistics” in the upper right, then “malaria”); it shows the span of time from when each malaria-fighting drug was introduced to the date at which a resistant strain emerged.

Finally, they drive the problem home with three strong anecdotes, including a Southeast Asian boy with drug-resistant malaria, a man fighting the drug-resistant tuberculosis that killed his HIV-positive partner, and a woman who lost an infant daughter to MRSA.

Stories in the series:

The package is accompanied by this video.


MRSA project earns AHCJ member an award

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The National Association of Science Writers awarded AHCJ member Michael Berens the Science in Society Journalism Award for his part in the November 2008 series “Culture of Resistance,” a tale of the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) through Washington that Berens wrote with fellow Seattle Times reporter Ken Armstrong. Berens and Armstrong uses databases and public records to chronicle the resistant bacteria’s rapid spread.

The press release quoted a judge as praising their work thus: “Although we’re awarding for local coverage, I think this piece has also had a rather profound national impact as well.”

FDA opposes antibiotics overuse in animal feeding

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Citing the dangers of drug-resistant microbes, newly appointed Food and Drug Administration chief Joshua Sharfstein testified against the over-use of antibiotics by animal feeding operations (12-page PDF). Sharfstein said drug-resistant bacteria make up 70 percent of the approximately 2 million infections caught annually in American hospitals, leading to a high cost, both financially and in terms of human life.

In particular, Sharfstein spoke against the use of antibiotics in small, constant doses for growth promotion. Instead, he said the FDA wants them to be administered only for treatment purposes and with a veterinarians supervision.

(Hat tip to Maryn McKenna)