Right now, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are holding a press conference to discuss the continued outbreak of MRSA at their team facilities. As we know, MRSA is a bacterial infection which is extremely difficult to treat. Traditionally, MRSA “outbreaks” have been associated with hospitals, prison facilities, and military barracks. However, in the last few years their have been many additional cases reported at various athletic facilities.
While the direct treatment of MRSA is outside of the scope of my practice; I believe it offers a great example of how skewed our perception of “health” and “healing” can be. For instance; if the mere presence of MRSA causes infection then why are not all of the Bucs currently infected? Furthermore, why are not all hospital patients affected by MRSA (?) because it surely is present in a hospital setting.
The answer is because the immune system and “defense” mechanism of the host (individual person) is the determining factor on whether or not they become infected. Millions of people enter hospital every year, are exposed to MRSA, leave the hospital and never become infected. Just as nearly every Buc was exposed to MRSA, yet only a few have become infected to date.
The mere presence of bacteria, in this case MRSA, does not automatically mean that one will become infected. This brings us to a fundamental flaw of the germ theory of disease. While is may be true that the presence of a bacteria is needed for infection; it is truly the hosts ability to neutralize this pathogen that determines whether the individual becomes symptomatic and “infected”.
MRSA is very resistant to treatment and can be a serious threat to individuals’ health and well-being. Truly an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Unfortunately, like many conditions in healthcare, the focus tends to be on the “awareness” and “cure” rather than on the prevention. I am sure the Bucs are doing everything in their power to control, and eliminate, the immediate threat of this bacteria. We also wish all of those affected with MRSA a speedy recovery. However, it places an interesting topic of discussion regarding our current healthcare system and its focus treatment rather than prevention.
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