Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Creeping Crud

My Consumer Reports "On Health Magazine" had a cover story this month on the rising cases of staph infections in gyms and health clubs around the country. Another good reason to workout at home. My guess is that the ropes, rings, pull-up bars and parallel bars at the beach where I workout aren't thoroughly cleaned every day, so I thought that maybe it was time to bring some hand cleaner to the beach on Sundays. Turns out that dangerous bacterial infections are on the rise all over the place. A whole new batch of antibiotic resistant strains of these little buggers also laugh at penicillin. I suppose if I read less I'd be less paranoid, but Doctors warned of this some 10 years ago when we all started using alcohol based "anti-bacterial" hand sanitizers. The experts said that the bacteria and viruses would mutate to build immunity to the very medicines and cleaners that are supposed to protect us. The over use of antibiotic medications has caused these little suckers to mutate and figure out new ways to infect us. Now there are super virus' and bacteria that are smart; they mutate the moment we stop taking the drugs to control them, thus making those drugs obsolete. (aids patients who stop taking their prescribed medication, even for one day, must start over in their medication regimen because the virus figures out how to circumvent the medicine in 24-48 hours and renders it obsolete)

There are several schools of thought, mostly in the psychiatric field, however, that we are genetically predisposed to illness. All the case studies I have read could be interpreted as a direct result of environment and behavior effecting our genetics. In the few physical illness articles I was able to find, doctors and scientists are somewhat divided and unclear. For instance, some sheep farmers in Britain are genetically effected by the chemicals they put on their sheep, and are unable, due to a genetic mutation caused by said chemicals, to fight off the damaging effects of the very chemicals they use to protect the sheep. Spraying pesticides to control West Nile Virus, does very little to control the virus, but has a very adverse effect on people, plants, and animals. In a study in northern Idaho, the town was sprayed with Malathion, the accepted pesticide for mosquito control. It did very little to control the bug population, (it is the larvae that needs to be killed, and you do that most effectively by not providing a home. e.g.. stagnant water) but caused some people in the region to stop producing a natural enzyme which allows them to fight off neuro toxins in the body. Thus, creating a bigger problem than the one or two cases of people getting sick from the virus itself.

In 2005, the American Thoracic Society released a study citing that children living next to highways and who have certain genetic backgrounds, are more likely to suffer from asthma than those living farther from the road. Uh, duh... I would think that if you live next to a major highway, you are certainly more likely to suffer from the effects of the pollution produced by living next to the road. And they failed to study whether or not the genetic alteration was caused by the parent living next to the road in the previous generation and passing that genetic code on to the child. Chicken or the egg? I'm not an expert but, I guess what I am saying is, we are constantly bombarded by virus' and bacteria and pollution, always have, always will. That bombardment has increased exponentially in the industrialized era. In a society that views the band aid as the fix, we need to remember we cannot take a pill or use a lotion to fix this. We need to take the actions necessary to increase our immunity naturally in order to survive. I believe the answer involves getting back to basics, what we put in and on our bodies and how we treat our bodies, exercise, diet, stress, etc. is a direct cause and effect.

We should remember, our own immune system is the best first defense we have and we should do everything in our power to make it as strong as possible. Naturally.

I'm just sayin...


9_Reps said...

Definitely a timely article Tony...many similar local cases making the news around here in upstate NY...

"After a week of highly publicized reports of MRSA outbreaks across the country and in the Capital District, more schools in the region are reporting new cases of the infection.

At Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School, one female student was sent home Thursday after a skin infection was confirmed to be Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a contagious infection that is carried on the skin and in the nose.

The school said she was at home Friday being treated for the infection.

The high school is the second in Saratoga County this week to report students diagnosed with MRSA. On Wednesday, Ballston Spa High School said two students had contracted MRSA in early September and early October.

Both schools said they were working with the Saratoga County Health Department to monitor the situation and implement preventive measures.

Guilderland High School also said Friday a student -- who is not an athlete -- had been diagnosed with MRSA Thursday afternoon after the school day was over.

School officials said they had already implemented sanitizing measures and were working closely with the Albany County Health Department to address the situation.

The Salem Central school district announced Friday that a student had been diagnosed with MRSA as well. It did not specify which school the student attended, but did say the student did not attend school this week.

Watervliet Elementary School said it discovered a student had been affected by MRSA last month. The student was treated by a doctor and stayed out of school for the duration of the infection.

"The district has contacted the Albany County Health Department and has been assured that this case does not in any way increase the risk to the school community, as any germs that may have been introduced into the school by the infected student have long since died," said Paul Padalino, schools superintendent.

"The district is happy that the family decided to inform us of the student's illness, even if it poses no increased risk now."

The Mohonasen Central school district in Rotterdam also announced Friday it had confirmed cases of MRSA, one at Draper Middle School and one at the high school.

District officials did not indicate how recent those cases were"


Anonymous said...


About 12 years ago I worked a one-year stint as a nurse's assistant in a geriatric clinic back in Pa (of course, they had me doing the "heavy lifting";).

Man, I was exposed to it all: MRSA, pneumonia, E-coli, viruses of various shapes and sizes, you name it! At the time I was a gym rat at a local dump, which by the way was the kind of gym where the guys yell and throw the weights as far as possible at the end of each set:). Anyway, although I didn't really know what I was doing in the gym, I still maintained consistency as far as exercise and am convinced to this day that this is what helped me overcome the effects of continuous exposure to these nasty pathogens.

On the other hand, most of my coworkers at the clinic did not conduct the same lifestyle. They smoked regularly, ate garbage, partied almost daily, the whole gambit. As weeks went by, I clearly noticed how their general health and moods went through more twists and curves than a roller coaster. Why? I would ask. Is that living the life you want?

As these terrible bacteria and viruses become more drug resistant, we, as a society, must as you say get back to basics. Help must come from within, not from somewhere else. It's time to clean the closet, ladies and gentlemen.

More durable, less vulnerable!


Laureen said...

Have you seen the reports on the effects of blue light on bacteria?

Glynis said...

The University of Arizona recently received a grant to study the effects of French clay on MRSA. Older studies showed it was effective in killing staph, E. coli and intestinal parasites. I think sometimes the old ways may be the best ways. Our bodies have had so many antibiotics pumped into them, either through our own devices (running to doctors at every sneeze) or through the food we eat (all that goes into that cow or chicken before it gets to market). We've given germs every opportunity to build up resistances to our attempts to destroy them...and now what? Having caught staph at my own gym TWICE now, I'm ready and willing to look for alternatives before a superbug finds me.