Health Officials in Southern California Work To Address Increase in Number of Staph Infections
Southern California health officials are taking action to combat an outbreak of infections caused by a new form of Staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to antibiotics commonly used to treat such infections, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The infections typically occurred in hospital and nursing home patients, but an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant staph infections was reported in Los Angeles County jails in 2002. The county jails reported 921 staph infections in 2002 and 2,480 new cases in 2004.
In addition, David Talan, chief of Olive View-UCLA Medical Center's department of emergency medicine, found that reports of staph infections in the hospital increased from one or two per month two years ago to 28 cases per month in August 2004. The increase is "like a sea change," Talan said.
Gonzalo Ballon-Landa, an infectious disease consultant in San Diego County, said, "It's an emerging epidemic," adding, "Doctors in California and the whole community are not picking up yet on the fact that [it] is here."
Orange County health officials recently published warnings of the infections in their newsletter to physicians. Meanwhile, the San Bernardino Public Health Department has formed an informal task force to strategize treatment. Health authorities in San Diego County also have issued warnings to doctors.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday planned to meet with Los Angeles County Sherriff's Department and public health officials to discuss efforts to stop the infections inside and outside of jails (Leonard/Chong, Los Angeles Times, 2/15).