5 Infectious Diseases You Might Get in the ER


Super Bug Infections

Super bugs are far from super. They carry the moniker because, unlike typical bacteria, they are resistant to antibiotic treatments. MRSA (pronounced "mursa") is the most well-known of super bug infections. Its formal name is methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, and it's a fairly easy disease to catch. Simply touching something an infected person has touched, like a door handle, is all it takes to pick up the infection.

MRSA first shows up as small, red bumps. But it becomes more serious if the infection spreads to deeper layers of skin. People with compromised immune systems are at highest risk of contracting the disease, but any person can come down with it. While many antibiotics won't cure MRSA, there are a few that are still effective. The best way to avoid this super bug is to wash your hands after touching any surface in the emergency room, and to make sure that the health care professionals treating you are also washing and sanitizing their hands.

You've probably heard about MRSA before now. There have been numerous stories and news reports about the infection. However, what you may not know is that there's another super bug lurking in hospitals, and it's about to pass MRSA as the most common antibiotic-resistant infection in health care facilities.

It's called Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), or "C. diff" for short. Whereas MRSA attacks the skin, C. diff goes for the digestive system where it sometimes causes deadly inflammation of the colon.

In a recent survey of community hospitals, researchers found that C. diff infection rates were 25 percent higher than those of MRSA [source: Warner]. With cases of this infection on the rise, hospitals are trying to get on top of the disease -- finding effective treatments, and educating the public and health care professionals on preventive measures.

Super bugs sound scary, but they still don't cause the most common infections in hospitals and emergency rooms.