The biggest public health threat in the world is not Ebola, AIDS, the Flu or having sex with Donald Trump. It's MRSA.
That's the acronym for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and the painful truth is you’ve probably already been exposed to this bacteria – which is unwittingly carried by about 2 percent of Americans. The other painful truth is that the medical community still struggles both to properly diagnose and treat MRSA after it overwhelms the body’s natural defenses, takes root, and begins to rapidly multiply.
Nevertheless, articles in the mainstream news media about MRSA are far and few between. So are public infection and mortality statistics.
MRSA-related fatalities are often cryptically described as “staph infections” without identifying the lethal bacteria involved as either “MRSA” or "antibiotic-resistant." That’s akin to attributing every fatal stabbing or shooting to “heart failure” in the sense that it’s technically accurate but massively misleading.
Why the public smokescreen?
I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it’s due to a coordinated campaign of information suppression by those who formulate our nation’s public health policies. One which has quietly extended the 1 Percent’s endless campaign of class warfare to MRSA.
With good reason, at least from their elitist perspective. The medical community hasn't defeated MRSA. Hasn't even come close. In the battle for life and death, MRSA pretty much does as it pleases with the so-called masses. Meaning me and you.
An investigation by Reuters in 2016 found that MRSA deaths in the U.S. were being systemically under-counted by the federal government. It concluded that the number of fatal infections was increasing.
Unlike the flu, there is no MRSA vaccine. Antibiotic-resistance bacteria are the product of genetic adaptation, which means the widespread use of any antibiotic makes them less effective against MRSA with the passage of time. Precisely because these super bugs adapt to them so rapidly.
This dynamic is what makes the livestock industry's rampant overuse of antibiotics a threat to us all.
It also poses a singular challenge for the elites in our society who think their lives are infinitely more valuable than yours and mine. They’d rather see 100 workers die from MRSA than one CEO. Or 100 of our kids. That means reserving the antibiotics which work against MRSA for special cases, instead of widespread use.
The odds of our treasonous elites reducing beef and pork profits to help stamp out MRSA are between slim and none. After all, these are the same useless country club fools who publicly claim Climate Change is not happening, while privately building luxury Doomsday bunkers for themselves in New Zealand.
In other words, I wouldn't bet on "slim."
That’s why there are no ads on television encouraging you to remember to get your MRSA shot the next time you stop by your local pharmacy. It's also why this working class journalist refuses to play along with the sins of omission being committed by our nation’s public health policy-makers.
Suppression of information is not the same as misinformation. Instead of a lie, what you often get is a half truth or sin of omission. Those omissions pose a challenge to public service journalists and the public's right to know.
However, it’s not as daunting a challenge as you might think for those of us who have been on both sides of the news and public relations relationship.
Case in point, the post-surgery complications encountered by so many professional football players since 2003.
Typically, medical care improves with the passage of time. Just like physical training regimens. And just about anything that can influence betting is included in the injury reports issued by National Football League (NFL) franchises.
So, you don’t have to be a genius to understand that calculated omissions are taking place when professional football players in the prime of their lives suddenly begin to struggle to recover from routine surgical procedures. Elite athletes like former Cleveland Browns tight-end Kellen Winslow and receiver Joe Jurevicius, and future Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have all either survived post-surgery MRSA infections or purportedly experienced them.
NFL attempts to conceal the true extent of the MRSA pandemic, which has curtailed the careers of some of its biggest stars, have been a dismal failure. They include big outbreaks among the St. Louis Rams in 2003, the Cleveland Browns in 2008 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2013.
A survey of NFL physicians determined there were 33 MRSA staph infections in the league from 2006-08, on 11 teams. Many more infections no doubt went unreported.
Meanwhile, the NFL can't talk enough about its concussion protocols.
The vast majority of MRSA infections go unreported early on, when they look like any other infection. It's not until an infection begins to exceed the body’s ability to fight it off that doctors start to think MRSA. At which point a doctor actually has to order a specific test to determine whether it's the culprit.
Many don’t bother.
MRSA infections are quite common among hospital workers, because there is almost no way to eliminate the superbug in any commonly used public space when so many people are harmlessly colonized by them. Any more than there is with the flu.
However, the critical difference is that there is a flu vaccine available for widespread use. Whereas the very use of MRSA antibiotics erodes their effectiveness. Meaning that they might not be there when the rich and powerful need them if the rest of us have access to them.
That’s why no one wants to talk about MRSA in public health policy circles. Not because it went away.
When I first wrote about MRSA in 2008 I was amazed by how much more widespread it was than the public was being told. And by how many people it was killing.
At that time, the national media was filled with outrageous stories about kids being killed by MRSA. However, they were almost all presented as isolated infections.
The death of a single high school football player in Virginia named Ashton Bonds got a lot of attention for a while in 2007, prompting the closure of 21 schools. Few Americans outside the health community were aware that the same superbug was also responsible for 16 simultaneous infections on one Texas high school football team.
Because public health policy-makers declined to share that information. A decision which prevented hundreds of Texas parents from pondering this simple question: “Do I want my kid playing against an opposing football team on which 16 kids have MRSA?”
Gee, I wonder.
The Texas outbreak and many more like it were still unknown months later because the column headings were messed up on the Texas MRSA data report. They were gibberish - making the data on the state’s public Website useless in every way except for the appearance of compliance with public record laws.
The epidemiologist who authored the report for The Texas Department of State Health Services initially stonewalled me when I called her for help with the data headings. The graduate student who had served as her intern did not.
Suddenly, the numbers made sense.
I was looking at a rate of infection for Texas high school football players which was 16 times the national average. At least 276 football players were infected with MRSA from 2003 through 2005, a rate of 517 per 100,000 Americans according to the Texas studies. That compared with an infection rate for the general population of 32 per 100,000 - which equates to more than 90,000 people.
More recent MRSA mortality data is hard to come by.
Because what policy maker wants public data on a pandemic which makes them look completely useless and over-matched. Especially when they can only save a handful of victims and are trying to convince the rest of us it went away.
Public information suggests about 20,000 deaths are associated with MRSA infections annually.
A report published by The Centers for Disease Control in December 2007 estimated MRSA was present in 24,715 deaths in 1999 and 29,164 in 2005. That compares with about 30,000 to 40,000 deaths a year for all U.S. automobile collisions.
The data I saw back in 2008 indicated MRSA was killing more Americans than any of the 51 infectious diseases on the public mortality list maintained by The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. Shortly after my article’s publication, the CDC Web page with the list disappeared.
Officially, the CDC hasn't even tried to track MRSA deaths since 2011. If you believe that I've got a bridge you might want to buy in Brooklyn. I can get you such a deal on it.
So, why the connection between football and MRSA?
It doesn’t make sense for some of the healthiest young men in the world to be more vulnerable to infection than the rest of the population, but they are.
Not because of their physical condition, which is superb, but because of the game’s preferred playing surface and the routine use of minor surgery by professional athletes. Artificial turf creates skin burns that provide easy entry for bacteria. Surgery also opens the body’s protective outer layer.
Hence the correlation, and the widespread use today of cover-all tape by players looking to protect themselves from turf burns.
Why'd you think they were wearing it?
Since my article was published a wealth of new cleaning products have come to market for both artificial playing surfaces and healthcare settings. However, the vulnerabilities created by turf burns and minor surgery don’t just facilitate infections from bacteria in those settings. They also make players vulnerable to bacteria in team showers, team locker rooms, restaurants, gyms, and their own bathrooms at home.
What’s the solution?
Grass playing fields and reduced antibiotic use by livestock operations. However, both are non-starters for the Predatory 1 Percent because they would slightly increase costs and reduce profit growth.
What's the moral of the story?
The next time you hear some professional fear-monger on television yakking away about the flu, of Ebola, or whatever disease is the latest flavor of the month for the for-profit medical industry you can take their half lies and sins of omission with a grain of salt. Secure in the knowledge that if there was really something terrible out there – like say MRSA – they wouldn’t be telling you anything at all about it.
Because our elites are garbage right now.
They're not on our side and they don't give a damn about anyone who doesn't belong to a country club. The only way to change that dynamic is to stop voting for rich people when they run for office. Regardless of political affiliation.
Until then, we get to keep burying our kids.