Supporting 21st Century Science GCSE

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MRSA, Superbugs and Hospitals

So, you think that hospitals are a safe place to get well? Think again.

Enter MRSA, or Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. It is resistant to most of the commonly used antibiotics. Most of us can carry this bacteria quite naturally in our throats. However, patients in hospitals with weakened immune systems are susceptible to infection . Children, the elderly and the weak are most at risk. The symptoms are often indicated by redness, and swelling and tenderness at the site of infection.

Enter Darwin, and the principle of evolution. For every type of bacteria there are numerous strains, each with slighly different genetic mutations. Some of these strains beome very successful at fighting off attacks by antibiotics. The challenge is very much in evidence in a hospital, wherea range of antibiotics are often prescribed in large quantities. Naturally, you would find the most resistant strains surviving in this environment. Unfortunately this spells danger to anyone within the hospital, especially patients with open wounds and weakened immune systems.

The succesful strains of bacteria will, in time, undergo further mutations, and increase the level of resistance event further...... the age of the Superbug is here.

The use of a wide range of antibiotics in hospitals, provides numerous opportunities for different strains of bacteria to meet and rapidly accelerate the matural selection process.

Need to find out more about Superbugs? Try these links

What is MRSA?


MRSA Infections in Children

Hospital Superbugs

MRSA Factsheet

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