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Saved from Superbugs

A big step for science: One small country has solved the problem of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, which are a major problem in hospitals. How? By NOT prescribing any antibiotics!

Most superbugs originate in hospitals, where many people are taking antibiotics, and often exiting patients take these bacteria with them when they go home, where they spread into the general population. And sometimes patients bring superbugs WITH THEM when they become hospital patients, for instance, community-acquired infections with drug-resistant strains of Staph bacteria now turn up regularly among children hospitalized in intensive-care units. 25 years ago, Norway had a major superbug problem, like the US and most of the Europe. Their major solution was to stop prescribing so many drugs.

In the March 3rd edition of the Miami Herald, Martha Mendoza and Margie Mason quote researcher Jan Hendrik-Binder as saying, "It's a very sad situation that in some places so many are dying from this, because we have shown here in Norway that Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA] can be controlled, and with not too much effort. But you have to take it seriously, you have to give it attention and you must not give up.

They quote physician John Birger Haug as saying, "We don't throw antibiotics at every person with a fever. We tell them to hang on, wait and see, and we give them a Tylenol to feel better.''

They quote US physician Robert Muder as saying, "You save people pain, you save people the work of taking care of them, you save money, you save lives and you can export what you learn to other hospital-acquired infections. So, how do you pay for it? Well, we just don't pay for MRSA infections, that's all.''

It would help doctors to know what to prescribe if they could measure pain objectively, instead of asking patients how they feel. This would also help infants and "locked-in" patients, and people in comas, who can't talk.

In New Scientist, Jessica Hamzelou quotes researcher Morten Kringelbach as saying, "The definition of pain is that it is subjective, and until now an objective measurement has remained elusive."

Now fMRI machines, that show the brain "in action," can do just that, because oxygenated and deoxygenated blood have different levels of magnetization and thus they look different under an MRI. High oxygen is a sign that a brain region is especially active, as is the case when a person is in pain.

When YOU'RE feeling sick because you overdosed on antibiotics, stay in bed and catch up on your radio listening and DVD watching. Regular unknowncountry.com. listeners only have access to a month of shows, but subscribers can listen, and re-listen, for an entire year, as well as download shows to an MP3 disc so you can listen in your car and in other places away from your computer. You get all this for less than $4 per month, so what are you waiting for? Subscribe today! And when you're feeling better, come see us in person in Nashville.

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Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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