National Program to Help Prevent Staph Infections is Launched

NEW YORK Award-winning professional baseball team manager Terry Francona announces the launch of Strike Out Infection, a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of staph infections and how to prevent them. Francona is partnering in the educational campaign with Covidien, a leading global healthcare company, and the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC). 

Staph infection is caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which generally enter the body through a cut or wound.  In the community, these infections can be spread by a shared towel, razor or piece of sports equipment, or through skin-to-skin contact.  An increasing number of Staph bacteria are now resistant to powerful antibiotics, such as methicillin, which has given rise to the deadly strain, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). 

In 2002, Francona contracted a staph infection after routine surgery and became seriously ill. I was stunned at how devastating my infection was and how quickly it affected my life and family.  One day I was going in for a routine surgery, and 10 days later I was fighting for my life, Francona said. And it was all because I didnt have enough knowledge about these serious infections and how to prevent them. 

The Strike Out Infection campaign features, an online resource where people can learn more about deadly infections, ways to prevent them and who is at risk of becoming infected. Additionally, Francona and experts from APIC and other leading healthcare organizations will hold Strike Out Infection awareness events in several major U.S. cities.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that, in 2005, there were 94,000 cases of invasive MRSA in the U.S. that caused nearly 19,000 deaths.   In 2007, APIC released results from the first nationwide MRSA prevalence study, which showed infection rates to be eight times greater than previous estimates.  The APIC study was the first to measure rates of both MRSA infection and colonization (patients carrying and able to transmit MRSA) to determine MRSA prevalence more accurately. 

"MRSA and other infections are increasing in the community and continue to be a serious issue in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, including long-term care, causing longer hospital stays, repeat hospitalizations and increased healthcare costs," said Denise Murphy, president of APIC and vice president of safety and quality at Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center in St. Louis. "This crisis underscores the need for more public education and a commitment from the healthcare community to implement viable strategies to prevent MRSA and other serious infections." 

Surgeons and nurses take painstaking care preparing for surgery by following strict infection-control procedures, including washing their hands, carefully preparing a sterile operating room environment and ensuring the use of sterile surgical instruments and materials.  Its important that people become informed about hospital infection-prevention measures by asking hospital staff questions about these programs and the professionals that lead them. Additionally, people should practice good hand hygiene and talk to their doctor about how to protect against infection, such as using antiseptic skin cleansers and antimicrobial dressings to protect skin that has been injured.  

The emergence of infections that are resistant to numerous antibiotics has prompted researchers and infectious disease experts to mobilize and develop new and effective ways to prevent wound infections, said David Fink, director of research and development for Covidien.  Through this partnership, we continue our dedication to leading the discussion about, and raising public awareness of, how to prevent infectious disease. 

Source: Covidien