MRSA panic grips Mangaluru

MRSA panic grips Mangaluru

Mangalureans as well as residents of neighbouring cities panicked for a while when hundreds of BSc students of Laxmi Memorial College of Nursing in the city staged a protest in front of the institution, saying that it was trying to cover-up the outbreak of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).

A few television channels started telecasting it, adding to the fear.

The students also vented their ire against the reported misbehaviour of the college principal with their parents when they questioned her regarding the issue.

MRSA is a strain of staphylococcus aureus that has developed resistance to multiple drugs commonly used to treat the bacteria.

Speaking to mediapersons, final-year student Joslin D’Souza said students posted at the maternity ward of A J Hospital—of which Laxmi Memorial College of Nursing is a part—had been infected with MRSA. He claimed the infection has spread to about 90 students, and 75 per cent symptoms had been found among about 200 students.

“The college principal didn’t grant us leave, and we did not get free treatment at the hospital. Though we requested the college authorities to re-test those who had tested positive, the authorities didn’t heed our pleas and asked those infected to remain isolated. However, after the protest, the management has agreed to sanction 10 days' leave and provide free treatment to the affected,” he said.

When mediapersons sought clarification from the college authorities on the issue during the students' protest, none were allowed inside and the doors were locked. However, after some time, Mental Health Department head Triza Mathias said only 50-60 students are affected by MRSA. She also said they had been kept isolated and treated in the hospital.

Their symptoms included high fever and throat irritation, she said, adding that all students who had tested positive were being treated.

She also said no student had been admitted in the hospital. However, they had been granted two days' leave and suggested complete rest.

As the news spread, the hospital called for an emergency press conference later in the evening.  Addressing mediapersons, A J Institute of Medical Sciences (AJIMS) Dean Dr Ramesh Pai said he was unaware of nursing students being treated for MRSA, and also had no knowledge of the students' protest.  ­On the other hand, A J Hospital Medical Director Dr Prashanth Marla said: “Medical tests were conducted just two days ago, and around 40 students tested positive. They have been given medicine, and we don’t know the reason for the protest.”

He also maintained that no nursing student was admitted in the hospital for fever. “MRSA colonisation is common. It is neither a disease nor deadly. Every hospital conducts tests for MRSA 3-4 times a year. With MRSA, immunity power will not decrease in a human body. We have informed the students. However, there is a bit of misunderstanding. We will create awareness among the students. We are taking utmost care in the hospital,” he said.

Meanwhile, District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Ramakrishna Rao said he was unaware of the protest. However, he clarified that it is not Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), as mentioned in a few television channels. “MRSA is completely curable with antibiotics, and people need not panic,” he said. State Minister for Health and Family Welfare U T Khader has said MRSA-caused skin infection is treated with antibiotics.  “I have instructed the college management to take care of all infected students, including their treatment expenses. Health officials will monitor the situation,” he said.


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