Schools Report Spike in Staph Infections

by Sean Kenniff/CBS News

A new study finds an infection found in hospitals may be more common and deadly than first thought. The Superbug is dangerous because most antibiotics can't kill it.

At Long Island College Hospital nurses take no chances when a patient gets the super staph infection MRSA. Nurse Eileen Abruzzo says, "We place the patient on isolation immediately." Isolation is a private room with dedicated equipment. Isolation is necessary because MRSA can spread quickly. It often starts on the skin but can lead to a deadly blood infection and most medicines won't stop it.

Dr. Daveed Frazier explains how strong it is. "You can hit it with this antibiotic and that antibiotic will not kill this infection." According to a new study, MRSA is more common and deadlier that first thought. Researchers estimate that in one year there were more than 94,000 infections resulting in an astounding 18, 600 deaths.

"That's extraordinarily high," says Dr. Frazier. "If you say there's a 20 percent death rate, that's shocking, that's almost unheard of."

The death rate is so high because MRSA usually attacks sick and elderly patients already susceptible to infection. And while it's most common in hospitals, that's no the only place you'll find it.

A rash of MRSA cases has shown up among student athletes. On Tuesday a Virginia High School Student died from MRSA causing local officials to shut down 21 schools for cleaning. The bug seems to spread in locker rooms.

Dr. Frazier has this advice. "Don't share razors. Don't share towels. Don't share soap with other individuals." MRSA can be treated with powerful intravenous drugs, but prevention is the best practice. Lots of hand washing is the most effective way to stop the spread of this deadly bug.