By Sheneka Quinitchette
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
Tony Love, an active and athletic child in Chicago, was only 11 when he was infected with MRSA. During a basketball game at school, he collided with an opponent, fell and scraped his elbow. He brushed off what seemed like a normal scrape, but the next day he was not feeling well and wanted to stay home from school. His grandmother took him to the hospital the next day when he complained of pain. He went into shock in the emergency room and ended up spending the next four months in the hospital.
Independent journalist Maryn McKenna gathered hundreds of stories such as this one for her book “Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA.” She recently shared some of these stories in a talk at N.C. Central University.
MRSA stands for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is a staph infection that lives on your skin particularly in moist, warm places. It can become a problem when the infection encounters an open wound and makes it to the bloodsteam.
Dr. David Kroll, professor and chair of pharmaceutical sciences at NCCU thinks it is especially important to create awareness in communities such as Northeast Central Durham to prevent the disease from infecting the community.
McKenna says that the Latino community is at risk because of their frequent use of antibiotics and the African American community is at risk because of their lack of check-ups and doctor visits.
“We believe her discussion on drug resistant infections in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities is certainly the kind of issues in which the university can be on the cutting edge in tackling,” said Ansel Brown, NCCU assistant professor of political science.
“The forum was to raise awareness that MRSA can affect healthy young people, especially those who play contact athletics, as well as anyone in high population institutions such as prisons or nursing homes,” said Kroll.
One of the scariest aspects of MRSA is that it fights most antibiotics and often becomes immune to antibiotic treatment. Since the disease is so hard to treat, it can easily become a fatal menace.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, individuals can be at highest risk in athletic facilities, dormitories, military barracks, correctional facilities, and daycare centers. The disease affects the old and the young.
“MRSA is not only a medical problem requires an understanding of all disciplines. . . from infectious disease research, drug discovery, and computational epidemiology to criminal justice, law, and mass communication.” said Kroll.
Although MRSA was first found in hospitals, it was later found in individuals who had not visited a hospital. For years, doctors thought MRSA was confined to health care institutions, infecting exclusively those who were already ill, immune-compromised or old, and flaring up only occasionally in the outside world.
The most important thing people can do to protect themselves is to wash off after any active play that causes them to sweat.
It is also important to wash your hands frequently and avoid unnecessary antibiotic use.