Monday, October 13, 2008

Online Course Gives Physicians Useful Info about Community-Associated MRSA

A new bacterial infection is running rampant in communities because of antibiotic abuse, but ironically it is often misdiagnosed and treated with the wrong antibiotics, says a physician working to stop it.

Physicians regularly mistake the abscesses, or pockets of pus, caused by community-associated MRSA, or CA-MRSA, for spider bites and treat them as such, say Dr. Jim Wilde, pediatric emergency medicine and infectious disease physician at the Medical College of Georgia.

"Don't be fooled into thinking it's a spider bite," he says. "Think MRSA if you see a sore like that on somebody's hand or arm. The problem is that doctors are choosing the wrong oral antibiotics or are just not recognizing it at all."

Now they can log on to a new online lecture through the MCG Division of Continuing Education to learn more about this leading cause of skin and soft-tissue infections in the state.

It's part of a statewide educational campaign sponsored by Georgia United against Antibiotic Resistant Disease, or GUARD, to raise awareness about CA-MRSA.

Doctors and the general public can access the lecture at www.mcg.edu/ce/Online/mrsaonline. Physicians can receive continuing medical education credits for participating.

"The lecture, which is the first online continuing medical education course at MCG, is an excellent opportunity to learn more about this epidemic," says Caro Cassels, director of the continuing education division.

"There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about MRSA, even among practicing physicians," says Dr. Wilde, who directs GUARD. "And we see dozens of cases of CA-MRSA in the emergency room every week here. It is a different type of MRSA than what we've known for the last 40 years and is spreading all over the country very rapidly."

MRSA, or methicillin resistant Staph aureus, cannot be killed by methicillin, a type of penicillin. It is spread by physical contact, not by breathing the same air or coughing. It lives on the skin and can survive on others surfaces for at least 24 hours. Hospital-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA) has been rampant inside hospitals since the early 1960s but was rare among healthy people in the community. CA-MRSA popped up around 2003 and quickly spread nationwide, causing infections primarily in healthy people outside hospitals. Infections caused by either form of MRSA can be treated, but HA-MRSA is much more dangerous. Both are resistant to all beta-lactam antibiotics, which are the most widely used class of antibiotics available.

"And yet, despite the fact that most skin and soft-tissue infections now are caused by CA-MRSA, there are still many doctors who are prescribing these antibiotics," Dr. Wilde says. "We're trying to do is get the word out to everyone in the state to stop using beta-lactams for skin infections."

In addition to the online course, 9,700 primary care physicians received educational packets from GUARD. Each packet contains a CA-MRSA fact sheet, an informational poster, a two-page synopsis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for treating CA-MRSA and a fill-in-the-blank discharge sheet. Dr. Wilde also coordinates a speakers' bureau on CA-MRSA with more than 30 members available to deliver lectures anywhere in the state.

GUARD is the Georgia chapter of the CDC's Get Smart about Antibiotic Use Program. The coalition seeks to reduce antibiotic-resistant disease by decreasing inappropriate antibiotic use. The educational campaign also is sponsored by the Georgia Department of Human Resources.

For more information about the online course and coalition, visit www.ga-guard.org.

By Amy Connell
Medical College of Georgia

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1 comment:

Medifix said...

"Well done", please send similar packs to doctors in UK or publish in your website for us to download.

Most primary care physicians I meet in the hospital meetings still think MRSA is a hospital problem. NHS website and news paper claims they are warning GPs about this CA-MRSA but I have not received any yet.

I got fed up and so have published a website with all the information to warn people about this threat.