LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Saint Joseph London was featured in the Dec. 16 edition of USA Today due to the Methicillin-resistant Staphyloccocus aureus (MRSA) scare in the local area earlier this year.
Eric Allen, a 39 year-old London resident, fell victim to a pneumonia-induced coma brought on by MRSA in March, prompting doctors and CDC officials to go into “emergency mode.” MRSA went on to claim two other victims within the same month, with a total of six suspected victims eventually arising.
“They don’t even know for certain how I got this,” said Allen in an interview with USA Today. “Nobody knows how any of these people got this, and a little boy died from it. It really took a toll.”
The USA Today article has since stood as a warning sign for doctors nationwide. It points out how, in Kentucky, as in most states, hospitals are not required to report individual MRSA cases.
“We have more data on how many cows are in each county than we do on how many MRSA cases there are,” said Kevin Kavanagh, a physician who chairs Health Watch USA, a patient advocacy group. “It’s very hard to come up with (prevention strategies) if you don’t have solid data.”
The article went on to point out how the Center for Disease Control (CDC) only tracks “invasive” MRSA infections – infections where the bacteria has invaded the bloodstream and reaches internal organs. In other words, the CDC only tracks more serious and fatal infections.
This proves to be quite alarming, especially when there were approximately 460,000 hospitalizations involving MRSA diagnosis, 23,000 resulting in death. This means that the CDC excluded more than 375,000 MRSA infections that required hospital visits.
According to the USA Today investigation, the CDC doesn’t include “lesser” cases that were resolved with outpatient treatment. This figure could possibly be in the millions.