nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Monday, October 4, 2010

Great Fanfare For Stimulus Medical Research Into MRSA...Un-earthshattering

The press is trumpeting an 11 million dollar Stimulus Plan project to deal with severe infections that occur outside the hospital. 

Staphylococcal infections are everyday events.  Almost all of us are colonized with various strains...on the skin, in the mouth, etc.  Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a strain that can--in rare cases--cause lethal infections, more commonly from hospital sources but also from community exposure.   Nobody knows why... or what makes that rare person vulnerable.

According to the OC Register Healthy Living blog (Sep 4), the Administration has devoted some cash to test an antiseptic called chlorhexadine as a outside-the-hospital agent to suppress the population of the bacterium.  The logic is, if there's less of it around, fewer people will get infected.  The problem is that the agent they are going to test is the same one that's used in the hospital (Hibiclens), and in oral rinses that are already commerically available.

If it's effective it's not going to be because we found a great new agent against the bacteria.  It means we push people to use it at home.

I predict it will become the MRSA version of bottled water and hand cleansers.  Another costly product that millions will buy to keep from getting a rare condition.  I'm not an investor, but if I were I'd invest in chlorhexadine stock.

At some point a public health statistician will calculate how many millions of dollars we will spend to prevent one case of disease....and we'll be shocked, but keep using it  (pass the Purell, please).

The problem with MRSA infections is finding out in advance what makes a small number of people very vulnerable.  About 2 million people are carriers, but never get very sick with it.  My guess is an immune system defect that keeps the normal immune response from preventing the spread of infection throughout the body.  But, honestly, we don't know.

And the cleanser may "decolonize" individuals, but lead to chlorhexidine-resistant MRSA.  Wouldn't that be ironic?
Doc D

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