Cases of Staph Infections on the Rise in U.S. Prisons, CDC Reports
The number of cases of antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus aureus has increased in U.S. prisons in recent years, CDC officials said on Thursday, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports. Staph infections, which are often mild but can develop into fatal blood or bone infections, are spread by skin-to-skin contact or by contact with contaminated items. CDC Officials said that prisons may have a higher number of staph infections because inmates are in close contact and share personal items such as soap and towels. In addition, efforts to prevent staph infections in prisons face "several built-in obstacles," the AP/Sun reports. Prison officials consider hard plastic soap dispensers and alcohol-based disinfectants as potential weapons, and inmates often use soap as a form of currency. CDC officials also said that the high rate of incarceration in the United States -- one of every 142 U.S. residents was incarcerated in 2002 -- has helped spread staph infections from inmates to the general public. Dr. Dan Jernigan, a CDC epidemiologist, said, "If you look at especially jails, it is a dynamic equilibrium. Individuals are coming in and out all the time" (Yee, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.