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Bacteriophages

MRSA - The Problem.

What is MRSA. If neither you, a relative or friend are in hospital, then you may not pay too much attention to periodic press reports about 'Killer Bugs' or 'Superbug shuts wards' or 'MRSA on the rise'. If, on the other hand, you are in a hospital, you should rightly be concerned about MRSA or Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, to give it its full name.

MRSA or Staphylococcus Aureus is commonly found living quite benignly up people's noses or on the the skin. Occasionally, it gets into the body through cuts, operations, injections etc. causing infections ranging from the relatively mild, like boils, to severe infections of the blood, bones or deep weeping sores going down to the bone. In normally healthy people this is not a problem, but a depleted or underdeveloped immune system allows the organism to get past the body's initial defenses, to cause serious damage. The sick, undernourished, and elderly are often the usual casualties of MRSA. Diabetics too can commonly suffer from leg ulcers or deep foot infections, often resulting in amputation.

Then, in the 1940s, along came penicillin and everyone shouted 'Allelulyah'! The problem had been solved with this new wonder drug, and indeed it seemed that prayers had been answered. But, as early as the late 1940's, doctors were warning that if not used correctly i.e. courses had to be completed, and it shouldn't be over prescribed, the bacteria would mutate and become resistant.
The logical solution to bacterial mutation was to produce other types of penicillin, such as methicillin & flucloxacillin, which seemed to work, for a while at least but, true to form, the clever bacteria evolved too and the new drugs were having a hard time coping with the new strains.

The MRSA warning bells were officially sounded in the UK during the 1960's but MRSA continued to rise until at present, estimates of deaths, where MRSA was a contributory factor, stand at around 1600 in 2004. Extrapolating to 2005 could give deaths at nearly 2000 per annum, as the rate of MRSA infection has been increasing. The UK Government Statistics Office gives deaths in 2003 as 1400 and in 2004 as just over 1600. This represent an increase of 200 cases in just one year. As the infamous Stalin once said.."the death of one man is a tradgedy, the death of millions is a statistic". The curve is becoming steeper and the NHS fiddles while Rome burns!

MRSA can quite easily be treated by using a well tried and tested alternative means to expensive antibiotics. The most obvious answer is as old as bacteria themselves and it is called bacteriophages (viruses, like the T4 phage, which only attack a specific bacteria, leaving the human body when their work is done.) There are three families of virus on this planet:-

Those which kill only plant life.
Those which kill only humans and animals.
Those which kill only BACTERIA, the most interesting for therapeutic uses, as they do not attack humans. Their use against MRSA is very significant!

THE GOOD VIRUSES. Alas, the general public and most media use the terms 'virus' and 'bacteria' interchangably, and when the word 'virus' is mentioned, most people think only of 'bad guys'. Bacteriophages are actually our friends, having co-existed with bacteria for billions of years and evolving to keep up with them when bacteria mutate to try and survive predation. For a good basic description of what phages are, and their beneficial aspects regarding MRSA, visit Phages.org

While work on finding cures for MRSA have started in the UK this is too late and too little, as there are already well established phage clinics around the world, probably the most famous one being that in Tbilisi, Georgia, a former Iron Curtain country. Why has phage therapy been ignored in the UK for so many years, while antibiotic resistance has steadily risen? Could it be that the UK knows better than 'Johhny Foreigner', or that former Communist country medical procedures were regarded with Cold War suspicion? Whatever the historical reasons, it is now time for some action!
Phage therapy is licensed in Poland, a fellow EU country but our government refuses to allow phage use here; why?

I urge you to check out the plethora of information on the Internet concerning phages, then contact your MP and ask questions as to why phages are being ignored while 2000 people annually die of MRSA complications in our hospitals. Procrastination by our Health Services is killing people!

The problem of the UK's poor performance in fighting infections was recognised by a concerned group of House of Lord's parliamentarians as far back as 2003, and yet things do not seem to have improved today. Read their report here Defences to Fight infection Need Reinforcing.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact me, Mike Jozefiak, via Email.

Mike Jozefiak
203 Hungate Street
Aylsham
Norfolk
UK
tel: 01263-734990.

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