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MRSA Outbreak amongst lobstermen, Vinalhaven Maine

January 26th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments



Yesterday there was a story in the  Working Waterfront  newspaper about the 4 month outbreak of MRSA on the Island of Vinalhaven Maine.  There were approximately 1200 people on the island in the 2000 census.  2 dozen people were infected with MRSA in this outbreak.  Assuming that each of the victims is from a different family, that is 2 dozen families that may be effected.  If no family members have become infected, which is unlikely, some at least have become colonized.  This means, if those family members become vulnerable to infection because of flu or an admission to the hospital for an invasive procedure, they may encounter an active infection….a serious one.

Caretakers and household members of infected individuals should be screened for MRSA on admission to hospitals in Maine and everywhere.  This population was not included in the current MRSA screening “test” that we are currently conducting in Maine.  It is only one of the many inadequacies of this screening “test”.

If any of the victims or their families read this blog, please, for your own safety and that of others, ask for a MRSA screening if you are admitted to the hospital for anything. 

Community acquired MRSA generally presents itself as a skin infection or abscess.  But, if a persons immune system is overloaded like with H1 N1 flu, MRSA can cause pneumonia.  Some of the deaths you read about with H1N1 were caused by co infection with MRSA.

Community acquired MRSA is spreading and growing all the time.  It is getting into our hospitals undetected because of inadequate screening and then is spread in facilities.  The two genetically different strains of MRSA are sometimes merging and becoming more and more difficult to treat.

We need to stop MRSA at hospital doors.  We need to screen patients  for the purpose of “search and destroy”.  When it is detected at hospital doors, we can treat the effected patients and separate them from uneffected patients.  It’s a win win for patients. 

My guess is that the victims of MRSA on Vinalhaven are still fighting their infections.  It would not suprise me one bit if their families have been effected by these infections.  Education and knowledge fights MRSA.  The Maine CDC did investigate and control this outbreak and that is wonderful.  But the implications of this outbreak are important. 

Our hospitals must do life saving MRSA screening of all appropriate high risk populations on admission and during hospital stays.

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