Previously, I told you about rapper T.I.'s niece, Kamaya, who was sickened with a serious skin infection. According to Kamaya's social media accounts, she was hospitalized for a week with a boil inside her nose. The infection started out as an innocuous pimple inside her nostril. The pimple developed into a boil, then into an abscess. Thankfully, Ms. Harris has recovered from her ordeal.
But others weren't as fortunate. Three patients died of pneumonia caused by a Staph infection within days of each other at a hospital in London, Ky., USA Today reports. One man, Eric Allen, 39, was admitted with a serious form of pneumonia caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Allen was described as "coughing up bits of lung tissue" before his organs failed and he died.
Days later, another patient, a 54-year-old man, was admitted to the hospital with similar symptoms. He died within 72 hours. A 28-year-old woman was dead on arrival. She, too, was diagnosed with "necrotizing" pneumonia, caused by MRSA. The patient's lung tissue had decayed within hours, a condition known as necrosis.
Doctors were alarmed at the number of new cases of MRSA pneumonia killing healthy people within hours or days.
"What really bothered me was the rapidity of their deterioration, a matter of hours," says Muhammad Iqbal, a pulmonologist who chairs the infection control committee at Saint Joseph-London hospital. "We were worried that something was spreading across the community."
MRSA bacteria was initially the scourge of hospitals and clinics. But since the 1980s, the bacteria have emerged into the community.
MRSA lives naturally on the skin and in the nostrils of about 30% of the population. The infection usually doesn't cause problems until the bacteria gets inside cuts, insect bites or abrasions.
Newly diagnosed cases of MRSA infections, ranging from minor skin boils to deadly pneumonia, claims upwards of 20,000 lives per year.
"It's not about winning or losing the battle (against MRSA), it's that the battle is shifting," says Ramanan Laxminarayan, a Princeton University scholar who heads the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy. "You're seeing people who are young and healthy getting this (in the community), and it's very serious. ... And it's not picked up in the statistics."