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Antibiotic research: the kryptonite of superbugs

HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED infections are a scourge that kill and injure patients and impose a heavy cost burden on the nation’s health care system, so much so that policy makers are debating the idea of rewarding hospitals that reduce their infection rate and punishing those that don’t. This makes sense, but it will not solve an important corollary public health crisis - the shortage of antibiotics to treat the current and the coming wave of superbugs.

The incidence of infections from drug-resistant bacteria such as MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), commonly known as “staph’’ infection, continues to rise in hospitals and in community settings. In 1980, roughly 3 percent of staph infections were diagnosed as MRSA; today that number has reached 60 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 19,000 deaths were associated with MRSA in 2005. And in a disturbing new development, the CDC has reported evidence of a link between bacterial infections such as pneumonia caused by MRSA and the H1N1 virus among patients who have died from the virus.
 
 

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