A Possible Treatment for MRSA Abscesses
In the U.S., we have become increasingly dependent on antibiotics to treat many illnesses. Such overuse of antimicrobial drugs has created many bacteria that are becoming more resistant to everyday antibiotics, hence the term “superbugs”. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is one of the most notable superbugs and is infamous for infecting hospital patients who have open wounds or who are immunologically weak. MRSA typically infects the skin and forms painful and swollen abscesses that are filled with pus.
On June 29, 2017, the study, A Placebo-Controlled Trial of Antibiotics for Smaller Skin Abscesses, was published under The New England Journal of Medicine. Authored by Robert S. Daum and others, their research demonstrated the possibility of using two promising treatment options for patients with milder forms of abscesses caused by MRSA. The two drugs used in the study, clindamycin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX), are easily obtainable at an affordable price. 786 patients who had the right specification (drain-able abscesses that were smaller than 5 cm) participated in the study and were randomly divided into two treatment groups and one control group. Within the treatment groups, one received doses of clindamycin while the other received doses of TMP-SMX. The control group however, did not receive any antibiotics but instead received placebos. During the 10 day therapy session, the abscesses of each patient were drained and then applied with the specific treatment.
The results showed that in both treatment groups, the cure rates were higher than that of the placebo group. 81.7% of the patients treated with clindamycin were cured while 84.6% of the patients treated with TMP-SMX were cured. Both values were statistically higher than the 67% cure rate that was displayed by the placebo group.
So what does this tell us? It shows us that although superbugs are becoming harder to fight against, there may still be new and effective treatment options that have yet to be found. To discover these “super” antibiotics, more research is required. However, this should not be long term strategy as the time required for discovering a new treatment is longer than the time it takes for these pathogens to evolve. Our society uses antibiotics every day, whether through prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicine such Neosporin, or even antibacterial soap, we are increasing the likelihood for these bacteria to evolve into a more dangerous state. Ultimately, we should try to limit the usage of antibiotics in our daily lives, using them only when it is necessary at the correct dosage. Following this regulation may help prevent new superbugs from emerging, thus preventing future deaths associated with untreatable bacterial infections.
Daum, Robert S., Loren G. Miller, Lilly Immergluck, Stephanie Fritz, C. Buddy Creech, David Young, Neha Kumar, Michele Downing, Stephanie Pettibone, Rebecca Hoagland, Samantha J. Eells, Mary G. Boyle, Trisha Chan Parker, and Henry F. Chambers. “A Placebo-Controlled Trial of Antibiotics for Smaller Skin Abscesses.” New England Journal of Medicine 376.26 (2017): 2545-555. Web.
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Common antimicrobials help patients recover from MRSA abscesses: Trial counters current thinking about treatment effectiveness.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 June 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170629142704.htm>.