PureInsight | December 5, 2005
Researchers are finding that superbugs, which resist the strongest antibiotics in modern medicine's arsenal, sometime succumb to remedies from pre-antibiotic times. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have become a major health problem in hospitals and institutions in Europe and North America. Almost impossible to kill, the bacteria cause surgical and neonatal infections in hospitals, spread readily among prisoners and can be found in rugs, air-conditioning ducts, on door handles, floors and TV remote controls. Appearing outside of the hospital environment, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VRSA) can also be easily spread by casual contact via open cuts, brush burns and scrapes, and can quickly become difficult-to-treat and potentially deadly infections.
Yet old-fashioned methods for wound cleansing and dressing, ointments and cleaners offer promise as effective additions to standard treatment regimens.
Silver Shows Promise
Silver has long been recognized for its infection-fighting properties. In Ancient Greece and Rome, silver was used to fight infections and control spoilage. In 1893, the botanist von Nageli discovered that minute concentrations of silver contained microbicidal properties. Silver nitrate drops were routinely used in newborn infants' eyes to prevent infections until replaced by antibiotic drops. More recent products utilizing silver in various forms are showing real promise in combating bacterial resistance.
Colloidal silver was a liquid commonly used before the 1930s as an antibiotic and is available at health food stores and on the Internet.
Mesosilver, a colloidal silver product, was shown by an independent New York testing laboratory to be effective in reducing the number of MRSA and VRSA bacteria to undetectable levels within 5 to 24 hours, depending on the strength of the solution.
Acticote, a silver-impregnated dressing, was tested in two hospitals in Austria with encouraging results. In an unpublished study, Professor Robert Strohal found that in 95 percent of cases tested, MRSA infection did not occur in wounds treated with the dressing. This dressing is used in the U.K. to treat burn victims.
AcryMed Inc., a Portland, Oregon, company specializing in wound care and infection control technology, released research findings that show silver ointments to be effective in combating MRSA. The founder and CTO of AcryMed, Bruce Gibbins, stated that, "Used in medical dressings or in ointment form, silver can be an extremely useful first defense in stopping MRSA before it develops into a systemic infection."
A fabric that developers claim helps to kill the MRSA superbug is being used in hospitals in Nottinghamshire, England. The fabric, which contains a silver yarn, is used in curtains in the wards in one hospital and in surgeons' gowns and nurses' uniforms in other hospitals. The silver yarn ionizes when it is in the presence of bacteria, killing the bacteria that are on or near the fabric.
A website for tracking the rise of MSRA is http://mrsawatch.co.uk