Great article from web MD

Project Runway: MRSA, HIV and Jack
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If you’re a Project Runway fan, you’re no doubt wondering how Jack Mackenroth is doing. And you probably have a lot of questions about his MRSA and his health living with HIV.

The good news is that he’s fully recovered from his MRSA infection. But like many other people with MRSA, he had to spend 5 days in the hospital getting strong antibiotics in his veins.

Jack left the show not only to get treatment for his MRSA but also because MRSA is contagious. He didn’t want to risk any of the other designers catching it from him.

MRSA is methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus. It’s basically a variant of the very common staph bacteria. But it’s a potentially very dangerous variant. It’s resistant to many antibiotics, including methicillin – hence the name.

MRSA is estimated to kill about 19,000 people a year – most commonly among people with weakened immune systems. Most of these people also appeared to acquire their MRSA in the hospital (more on this later).

Thankfully it’s not resistant to all antibiotics. MRSA can sometimes even be treated with oral antibiotics. However, when the infection is severe, as in Jack’s case, IV (intravenous) antibiotics are needed to knock it out. And in even rarer instances, also as in Jack’s case, surgery is needed to clean out the infection.

Jack’s infection was in his nose and surgeons had to go in and clean out the infected tissue. This is a very important part of treatment when antibiotics alone are not be able to wipe out the infection.

MRSA most commonly affects the skin and mucous membranes – the tissues that line the nose, for example. Wondering what an MRSA infection looks like? Check out WebMD’s new MRSA slideshow.

The question that seems to be on a lot of people’s minds is whether or not Jack being HIV-positive had anything to do with his MRSA. The answer is probably not — definitely not, according to Jack.

While HIV can suppress the immune system and make someone more susceptible to infections like MRSA, Jack is apparently very healthy and has no signs that his immune system has taken a hit.

It’s an important point and something that most people don’t understand. What’s the difference between HIV and AIDS?

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Someone with HIV can have a very healthy immune system. AIDS occurs when HIV kills enough of the person’s immune cells and they fall to dangerously low levels. This can lead to unusual and dangerous infections that most of us never have to think about.

But today, people can live years and years with HIV – without having AIDS. Jack has apparently been HIV positive for 17 years and as you can tell looking at him, he’s doing quite well.

That’s the miracle of science at work. In just the 20+ years that we’ve known about HIV and AIDS, the disease has gone from a very quick death sentence to a chronic illness. It’s still a very serious illness and people still die from it every day – yes, even people in the U.S. But with modern drug treatments, people can strive to live a long, healthy, and happy life. And we’ll all keep our fingers crossed that some time in the next 20 years (hopefully sooner), researchers will find a way to wipe it out completely.

So back to MRSA …

Most MRSA infections still occur in the hospital, particularly among people in the intensive care unit or after surgery. But we’re now seeing increasing numbers of MRSA infections in the community – even in schools. Recently, a 17-year old high school football player in Bedford, VA died from MRSA.

I don’t know where Jack got his MRSA from but the point is that it’s out in the community. That said, most community MRSA infections are mild and can be treated fairly easily. And you can take steps to help avoid it.


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