I have a special place in my heart for microbiology in general, and superbugs in particular. Ever since microbiology lab, I’ve loved playing with bacteria. In fact, I still have a urea agar slant vial that’s a lovely shade of flourescent pink — thanks to proteus vulgaris — that I
stoletook from lab. (They were just going to throw it away!) It was hanging from my rearview mirror in my car for a while, and now it sits on my desk, an old friend from a favorite class. It looks something like this, only the agar is translucent rather than opaque, and is quite pretty when it catches the sun just right. Maybe I’ll take a picture of it one of these days. I’m surprised it’s as vibrant pink as it is — it’s quite old.
Alas, I’m showing my nerdy side. On with the real news…
MRSA is turning into a real problem in prisons. Not only for prisoners, but for guards as well. I’ve been watching this blog for a while, and following the comments therein. There’s some scary stuff going on:
K Schacht Says:
Until recently I was employed as an part-time instructor in two of our local jails. I had been working just a few months when suddenly I began to not feel well, and then the symptons developedâ€¦ which were misdiagnoised for several months. Finally, I was correctly diagnoised with MRSA, but six months later Iâ€™m still ill and the antibiotics are not working.
Yes, Iâ€™m mad and yes I do feel the jails have a culpability of informing and educating not only outside and inside staff, but the inmates as well.
I had no idea of this risk and was not informed at each jail orientations. The choice of exposure was not an option and the lack of information has prolonged and perhaps worsened my health.
State Corrections Officer Says:
I have been infected with the MRSA infection and I appeal to all of the other concerned staff and health-care employees to write your poltical parties and voice your concerns about the lack of information distributed by the institutions and unwillingness to allow and/or approve sick leave benefits.
Cindi Goreham Says:
My mother passed Jan 26,2006 with this disease. She was incarcerated before she passed and had sores on her face and arms. She began getting them while she was incarcerated and when she went to medical nobody could tell her anything and she continued to get sicker and sicker. My mother had her faults but she didnâ€™t deserve to die. If anyone can give me any information on inmate lawsuits I would appreciate it.
Yes, these are anecdotes, and should be taken as such. However the story is the same for all of them: a lack of disclosure of the risks. Prisoners shouldn’t be subjected to these conditions, to say nothing of the employees that work for the institutions. This is a first-world country, not the PRC. Human rights actually means something here, and these rights should be universal inasmuch as they can be.
I hope conditions improve, and there is some hope on the horizon through a new rapid MRSA test. Here are some random MRSA-related links. I could find dozens more relating to jail lawsuits alone without much effort, so these are just the tip of the iceberg.
- Staph infection complaints lead to probe at jail
- $15,000 neck abscesses — treatment for one inmate could run as high as $15,000
- Soap, water, and probiotics — battling drug-resistant bacteria by suppression with probiotics in the OR
As a taxpayer, I’d like to see prisons be safer for inmates and employees alike. Ignoring the problem is only going to make it worse: more infections, more lawsuits, and more unnecessary suffering. And I surely hate to see my tax dollars going to pay for treatments of inmates and employees when prevention is far more effective in the first place. In the case of prison guards, they should be made aware of these risks before day 1 on the job. They have it rough enough without having to worry about staph infections.
I’ve said before that I think that drug-resistant bacteria are going to become one of the nastiest medical problems in first world countries in the next 10-15 years.
[tags]Medicine, pharmacy, microbiology, bacteria, MRSA, prison, human rights[/tags]