VIRGINIA BRIEFING

VIRGINIA BRIEFING

Thursday, December 25, 2008

STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT

Drug-Resistant Staph Cases Have Killed 35

In the first year Virginia began tracking drug-resistant staph infections, 1,380 cases were reported and at least 35 people died.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) ordered medical labs across the state to report serious cases of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, to the state Health Department last year after a 17-year-old Bedford County boy died.

Millions of people routinely carry staph bacteria on their skin or in their nasal passages. Many infections are relatively mild, and the body successfully fights the germ. But this virulent strain of the microbe can turn minor cuts and sores into life-threatening conditions.

Only about 30 percent of the cases reported between Dec. 1, 2007, and the end of this November listed a known outcome, so the number of deaths could be higher.

Virginia's numbers reflect the national picture. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there were more than 94,000 invasive MRSA infections in the United States in 2005, of which more than 18,000 resulted in death.

MRSA has been fairly common for decades in hospitals and health care settings, but healthy people in community settings began contracting the resistant bacterial strains in the late 1990s. The bacteria spread through skin-to-skin contact and wound and nasal discharge.

-- Associated Press

TRANSPORTATION

Road-Crunching Trucks Might Have to Pay

Big trucks take a large bite out of Virginia's highway maintenance budget, a report concludes.


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