We’ve told you about MRSA - dangerous bacteria that are resistant to common antibiotics. MRSA kills more people in U.S. hospitals than HIV, AIDS and tuberculosis combined. The bug is becoming increasingly common outside of hospitals, affecting everyone from infants to athletes. Experts warn that MRSA is just the tip of the iceberg. Dr. Helen W. Boucher, an infectious diseases specialist from Tufts Medical Center in Boston, says we’re seeing bugs today that are resistant to ALL antibiotics - SUPERBUGS. Thankfully, there are things we can do to slow their spread. Here are two of the scariest threats and how to combat them, courtesy of Health magazine.
- Super-flu strains such as Avian or “bird” flu. Only 424 people worldwide have been diagnosed since 2003, but that’s because it doesn’t spread well from person to person - not yet. However, it’s deadly. Dr. Boucher says if Avian flu were to sweep through the population, it could kill hundreds of thousands of people. To help protect yourself, get an annual flu vaccination. Vaccines change every year, so make sure you stay on top of them. Also, get plenty of Vitamin D. It bolsters the immune system and helps prevent infection.
- There there’s Clostridium difficile, also known as C-diff. It’s a stomach bug that sickens half a million people in the U.S. each year, and contributes to nearly 30,000 deaths. It’s also found in hospitals, but is working its way into communities. The C-diff bacteria produce toxins that can destroy the lining of the gut, and lead to a deadly condition in which the colon walls become so thin – they rupture. Dr. Stuart Levy, a professor of microbiology at Tufts University of Medicine, says C-diff bacteria can survive for months on surfaces, and you can only kill them with bleach. So break it out. When washing your hands, alcohol sanitizers aren’t effective, but the friction of soap and water may help wash C-diff off of your hands and down the drain.