Local News

December 26, 2013

Saint Joseph London featured in USA Today

Local MRSA strain was aggressive, but not cause for panic



The article also brings to light the struggles faced by Saint Joseph’s Dr. Muhammad Iqbal and Cumberland Valley Regional Epidemiologist, Dr. Marion Pennington, who were on the front lines in March’s scare. When interviewed by The Sentinel-Echo Friday, Dr. Iqbal downplayed the overall seriousness of the infection.

“It’s a bug nobody talks about. But it’s so common – finding invasive cases is like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Iqbal said. “There’s a fine line in awareness to the point of panicking people.”

Iqbal said there are currently antibiotics that can treat MRSA, a fact the article in the USA Today failed to mention.

“Antibiotics exist that go against it,” Iqbal said. “What shocked us about the London strain is that it moved so violently and progressed so fast.”

The strain of MRSA that struck London in March has come to be known as the Panton-Valentine leukocidin (PVL) strain.

Ultimately, the USA Today article cites researchers calling for a general vaccine for staph, even while 30 percent of the public has non-threatening staph on their bodies and only two percent carry MRSA.

“It’s in the works,” Iqbal said. “But we don’t want to start pulling out the big guns quite yet.”

Other, more routine measures are also suggested. Experts repeatedly call for basic hygiene, not sharing personal items like razors or towels, and implementing cleaning and disinfection practices in public arenas.

For now, Iqbal and the staff at Saint Joseph London are keeping a sharp eye out for any signs of MRSA, but are letting it exist in the back of their minds. According to Iqbal, the last case of the PVL strain was back in April.

While hospitals are required to keep data on serious diseases, such as Malaria or Hepatitis-A, London residents should know PVL is being tracked locally. Pennington voluntarily tracks each MRSA case that arrives at the London hospital.

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