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Drug-resistent bacteria spreading in U.S.

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DENVER, Oct 27, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The overuse of antibiotics is leaving U.S. residents vulnerable to a potentially fatal bacteria, the Rocky Mountain News reported Wednesday.

Known as staphylococcus aureus, the bacteria has infected children at day care centers and even elite athletes like the Denver Broncos. It often appears on the skin as spots that look like spider bites or boils.

"We've seen a dramatic increase in infections" in the past year, said Connie Price, infectious diseases specialist with Denver Health. Before 2000, outbreaks of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus were limited mostly to hospital settings, but in Denver more than half of the cases are now outside hospitals.

The rising numbers of infections has resulted in a new protocol for infected patients. When healthcare providers see new cases, they assume it might be caused by a bacteria resistant to most antibiotics, so it is treated with special antibiotics that can still destroy it.

If the germs remain resistant, doctors have to turn to fast-acting intravenous antibiotics such as Vancomycin. That usually requires a two- to four-day hospital stay for continuous dripping of the antibiotic into the arm.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.


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