Dallas County Jail officials treated nearly 700 cases of a drug-resistant and potentially dangerous staph infection during a recent three-month period, says the Dallas Morning News. They warn that limited resources are thwarting efforts to prevent further spread of the bacterium in the community. For more than a decade, officials have been battling, with little success, thousands of cases of boils and sores on inmates caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. From November through January, health workers at the jail treated 682 confirmed or suspected cases of MRSA. “It remains a big problem here,” says Dr. Steven P. Bowers, the jail’s medical director.
The infection can be spread through physical contact or contact with surfaces touched by infected people. Once confined to hospitals, it is cropping up in the general public nationwide as well as jails across the country. “The concern is that as it resists more and more antibiotics, we’ll eventually have no treatment at all,” Dr. Bowers said. Jails across the country have been grappling with MRSA. Los Angeles, with the largest county jail in the nation, first identified the problem in 2002. It saw MRSA cases increase from 921 that year to 2,480 in 2004. Los Angeles officials instituted more stringent measures to counter the outbreak, requiring inmates who enter the jail with a boil or sore to be isolated and tested. Those who test positive for MRSA are further isolated and treated with aggressive antibiotics.